Uh Oh Bango (inside) wins the Berkeley Stakes.

Uh Oh Bango (inside) wins the Berkeley Stakes.

Vassar Photography

Uh Oh Bango Makes Grade in Berkeley

Triple AAA Ranch Arizona homebred turns away favored Bold Chieftain in tight finish.

Uh Oh Bango outfought favored Bold Chieftain by a head in a terrific finish to post the first graded win of his career in the $100,000 Berkeley Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Golden Gate Fields May 30.

Eight-year-old Bold Chieftain, who put his head in front briefly on the outside, lost for the third consecutive year by the distance of a head in the 1 1/16-mile Berkeley when he could not match Uh Oh Bango in the final strides. The final time was 1:44.61 on the Tapeta racing surface.

“I guess this race is just beyond him for whatever reason,” said Baze of the runner-up. “He ran a very good race. I went a short head by (Uh Oh Bango) and he came back on and got me. He was very game. Youth was served today.”

Trained by Kory Owens for Triple AAA Ranch, the Arizona homebred Uh Oh Bango won in his first stakes appearance since running fourth in the 2010 Arkansas Derby (gr. I). The son of Top Hit--French Debutante (by French Deputy) was coming off an optional claiming allowance victory at Hollywood Park at the Berkeley distance May 12.

Ridden by Aaron Gryder in the Berkeley, Uh Oh Bango prompted the pacesetter Our Nautique through quarter-mile fractions of :24.90, :49.73, and 1:13.61 before taking a narrow advantage in the stretch. Bold Chieftain, angled to the outside for Russell Baze, drew even near the eighth pole and the two battled it out to the wire with Uh Oh Bango prevailing in resolute style.

“Bold Chieftain got a head in front but my little horse dug in,” said Gryder. “The last 50 yards he kept giving me a little more and a little more and a little more. He wanted it as bad as I did. His desire and will to win got him the victory.”

Mobilized, ridden by Abel Cedillo, finished 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third, followed by Autism Awareness, Our Nautique, Hudson Landing, Delightful Kiss, and Knockout Artist.

Uh Oh Bango was sidelined for nine months after the Arkansas Derby but has been tough as nails since his return in February, posting two wins, a second, and two thirds in five starts. He had runner-up finishes in the Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot (gr. III) and Iroquis (gr. III) stakes as a 2-year-old. His career mark stands at 4-4-2 in 12 starts. He has earned $411,612. 

“We wanted to run him in the Kentucky Derby last year but he developed a problem after the Arkansas Derby, so we had to give him time off and get started again,” said Owens. “This horse seems to have really taken to synthetics (2-for-2). There were some good old horses in this race. Bold Chieftain -- it’s a big thing to beat a horse like that.”   

Uh Oh Bango paid $11.40, $5.60, and $3.40 as the third choice. Bold Chieftain, a 17-time winner of more than $1.5 million in his career, returned $3.80 and $2.40 and completed a $33.80 exacta. Mobilized, from the Gary Mandella barn, was $3 to show.