Spensive, with Hall of Famer Julie Krone aboard, came back on in the final yards to defeat 25-1 long shot Always Remember by a head in the $81,075 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields Saturday.
The Gold Rush lost its star attraction two hours before post time for the race when D's Bertrando, the 6-5 morning-line favorite, was scratched from the one-mile feature for 2-year-olds. D's Bertrando broke his maiden by 13 lengths in a very fast 1:08.49 on Nov. 9 and was scheduled to make his stakes debut Saturday.
After the scratch of D's Bertrando, Krone found herself on the favorite in the Gold Rush as Spensive went off at 6-5. The Florida-bred colt paid $4.40, $3.60 and $3.40 after stopping the timer in 1:38.32. Always Remember paid $11.40 and $5.80 while Natural Balance, who finished third under Caesar Bisono, returned $7.00.
Krone, thoroughbred racing's all-time leading female jockey, recorded her 3,556th career victory aboard Spensive.
"I didn't know if I'd won or not, but he felt great and really galloped out strong," said Krone. "I wouldn't mind being back up here in a few weeks to try the Golden Gate Derby (gr. III) with him."
The $100,000 Golden Gate Derby will be run at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 11, at Golden Gate Fields.
Bob Baffert trains Spensive, who was fourth in his most recent race, the Sunny Slope at Santa Anita on Oct. 19, which is his only out-of-the-money showing in his five starts. The grey son of Ponche won his maiden debut at Del Mar Aug. 26 and now boasts career earnings of $98,631.
Always Remember, ridden by Kevin Krigger, appeared headed to victory in the Gold Rush after he charged from last in the field of six and took the lead in midstretch. However, Spensive, who had rallied from fourth to take the lead at the top of the lane, refused to give up after being passed by Always Remember and gamely battled back to pull out the win.
Krone, who returned to riding Nov. 1 after a 3 1/2-year retirement, earned her second stakes win in eight days. On Dec. 7 at Hollywood Park, Krone guided 52-1 Debonair Joe ($107.60) to a shocking victory in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood Handicap.
According to trainer Jeff Bonde, the decision to scratch D's Bertrando was made by owner Dennis Narlinger (JMJ Racing Stables, LLC), who didn't want to run his colt in the rain and on the off track. The rain-pelted track was officially listed as sloppy.
Bonde said D's Bertrando will now be pointed for the $125,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes, a seven-furlong race for California-bred 2-year-olds that will be run Dec. 26, at Santa Anita.