Alex Paszkeicz scored a triple when Pepper Crown, the longest shot on the board at 46-1, rallied along the rail to win the $100,315 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) on yielding turf at Golden Gate Fields April 26. (VIDEO)
Pepper Crown, a California-bred 4-year-old colt by Peppered Cat out of the Crowning Storm mare Crown This Lady, is owned by the Alex Paszkeicz Living Trust and was bred and is trained by Paszkeicz. It was the first stakes victory for Pepper Crown, who had shown an affinity for the grass with two wins and a second in three starts in 2013.
"I wasn't surprised," Paszkeicz told HRTV after the race. "We feel we had him where we wanted him with the turf the way it is today. We figured he would have a good shot."
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Pepper Crown, who had four wins in nine starts heading into the race, broke well from post 2 and raced not far off the rail the entire trip. Favored Summer Hit and Russell Baze set the pace of :23.43 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.60 for a half-mile, and 1:12.51 for six furlongs.
In the stretch Horizontalyspeakin and Pepnic, who tracked the leader in second and third, respectively, faded. That left it up to Summer Hit and Pepper Crown, who found room along the rail and rallied to nail Summer Hit by three-quarters of a length in 1:36.90 for the mile.
Summer Hit finished second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Hudson Landing in third, with Longview Drive fourth. Horizontalyspeakin was next, with Pepnic, who was claimed from Paszkeicz for $62,500 March 30, checking in sixth after stalking the early pace in the eight-horse field. Tribal Jewel and Fast Track trailed.
Pepper Crown paid $94.20, $23.40, and $7.40 across the board. Summer Hit returned $3.40 and $2.60, while Hudson Landing paid $4. The $1 exacta returned $158.80 and the $1 trifecta paid $591.30.
Pepper Crown broke his maiden on the turf last year at the Sonoma County Fair, came back to win a starter allowance event on the grass at that track, and then finished second by a head in an allowance test at Golden Gate Fields. This year he had two wins in five starts on the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate before the San Francisco Mile.