Claimed by trainer Eric Guillot three starts back at Saratoga Race Course, the 2012 United Nations (gr. IT) victor looks to rebound from an 11th-place finish in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park. He is one of six entered for the Berkeley, run at 1 1/16 miles on the Northern California oval's all weather track.
The best finishes from the 6-year-old Northern Afleet gelding this year were a victory in the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes, a runner-up finish in the Feb. 16 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT), and a second by 1 1/4 lengths behind Big Blue Kitten in an attempted United Nations defense. Back in 2010 he broke his maiden on dirt at Calder Casino & Race Course, and he won the Big Brown Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Monmouth Park that year. In his next start he was third on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III), but he has never run on a synthetic track and the majority of his outings have come over the lawn.
This season, after being claimed by Guillot and Southern Equine Stable from Michelle Nevin when he ran sixth in an Aug. 15 optional claimer, Teaks North ran fifth in the Sept. 29 John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IT) at Santa Anita before his off-the-board Breeders' Cup finish there. Dennis Carr gets the mount from post 2; the gelding carries 121, second-highest impost in the field.
Summer Hit is the 123-pound highweight, departing the 5 hole with Russell Baze in the saddle for Jerry Hollendorfer. The 4-year-old Bertrando runner, owned in partnership by Hollendorfer and John Carver, also seeks a rebound off a seventh in the Sept. 28 Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I). Prior to that run, Summer Hit won the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar, and earlier in the season took the All American Stakes (gr. III) at Golden Gate. He has an 8-2-2 record from 14 starts.
Grade III winner Majestic City is also of interest in this spot. Bloom Racing Stable's 4-year-old City Zip runner won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (gr. III) on the synthetic surface at Betfair Hollywood Park in 2011, and recently returned to the winner's circle for the first time since then by taking the $93,100 Big Bear Stakes going a mile on the dirt at Santa Anita on Oct. 31 by a neck. He will be ridden for trainer Ron Ellis from the outside by Jose Valdivia Jr. under a 119-pound impost.
Completing the field are local allowance winner Administer, runner-up 2 1/2 lengths behind Gallant Son in the Nov. 16 Oakland Stakes; graded stakes-placed Fire With Fire, who took the Oct. 13 Bull Dog Handicap at Fresno; and Emerald Downs expert Stryker Phd, runner-up in the Longacres Mile (gr. III) earlier this season and winner of the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic Stakes in September.
$100,000 Berkeley Handicap (gr. III, Race 7, approximate post 3:45 p.m. PST), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/16 miles (all weather track)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Fire With Fire (KY), J.J. Hernandez, 119, N D Drysdale
2. Teaks North (FL), D. Carr, 121, E J Guillot
3. Stryker Phd (WA), I.D. enriquez, 116, M Lloyd
4. Administer (IL), L. Mawing, 116, B D Wright
5. Summer Hit (CA), R.A. Baze, 123, J Hollendorfer
6. Majestic City (KY), J. Valdivia, Jr., 119, R W Ellis