The tough veteran Bonfante successfully defended his title in the $100,000 California Turf Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows Saturday despite encountering some traffic troubles in the stretch.
Trapped behind a wall of horses entering the lane, Bonfante finally found a seam between Vaderator and No Derby in deep stretch. The 6-year-old Fruition gelding surged powerfully through the hole and won the five-furlong grass dash for California-breds by a length in :57.30.
Sent off as the 9-5 favorite, Bonfante was making his third straight appearance in the Cal Turf Sprint Championship. He finished second in the stakes in 2005 but came back to win the 2006 edition by 2 1/4 lengths under jockey Russell Baze, who was aboard again Saturday.
"I loved the way it set up with five horses across the track in front of me, but he was too much into the bit to run outside," said Baze. "As we came down the stretch, I thought Vaderator would drift out, but he came back in so I had to change direction very quickly. I had to wait a little longer than I wanted, but it opened soon enough for him to get through and win."
Owned and bred by Frankfurt Stables and Eugene Tenbrink, Bonfante earned $55,000 for the victory - his sixth stakes tally and his ninth win in 22 career starts. In five-furlong grass events, Bonfante has four wins and a second in six starts. The bay increased his earnings to $410,457.
"He showed a lot of heart coming through there," said Lew Figone of Frankfurt Stables. "We thought he'd lost it. He can run on both turf and dirt but I think he really likes the turf."
Bonfante, who previously raced for trainer Steve Specht, ran for the first time for Southern California conditioner Ron McAnally. Making his first appearance since running third in the California Cup Sprint last October at Santa Anita, Bonfante paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2.80.
No Derby ($23.80, $6.80), the largest price on the tote board at 49-to-1, took second by 1 1/2 lengths over Vaderator ($3.40), the 5-to-2 second choice who had won three of his last four starts.
"We had no excuse," said Frank Alvarado, who rode Vaderator. "He cleared and I had a nice trip. He ran his race."
The mare Vaca City Flyer finished fourth, followed by Limited Creole, Red Warrior and Wind Water.
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