Bold Chieftain, who won his first graded stakes in last year's San Francisco Mile, will defend his title at Golden Gate Fields April 30 on the turf after returning from retirement earlier this year.
The San Francisco Mile, a grade II event last year -- and the only one in Northern California for some time -- was dropped a level for this year's renewal with the race taking a purse reduction as a result, from $150,000 to $100,000. It was worth $300,000 as recently as 2009. This year's race, which attracted a good field of nine, is the seventh on the Golden Gate program with an expected post of 3:45 p.m. PDT.
With more than $1.5 million in earnings, the California champion Bold Chieftain's retirement was announced last summer with his final stud plans still to be determined. But the 8-year-old son of Chief Seattle returned to training earlier this year instead. He tuned up with a rallying second in a six-furlong allowance test March 13 on Golden Gate's Tapeta synthetic track.
William Morey Jr. once again conditions the hard-knocking dark bay horse who he owns as partner with Ernest Langbein, Kenneth Robinson and Dwaine Hall. Bold Chieftain brings a 17-8-4 mark in 39 lifetime races and will be teamed as usual with Russell Baze.
Baze registered his first win in the San Francisco Mile with Bold Chieftain last year, rallying the old veteran from third at mid-stretch to surge past pacesetter Monterey Jazz for a half-length victory.
When Bold Chieftain was retired he was enjoying one of his finest seasons, winning three of six starts in 2010, including the Sunshine Millions Classic prior to the San Francisco Mile. The two-time California Classic winner earned a career-best $419,740 last year.
Trainer Julio Canani, who has won the San Francisco Mile a record three times, is back with Southern California shipper Blue Chagall, a 6-year-old French-bred son of Testa Rossa that races for Prestonwood Fram.
Blue Chagall, a stakes winner on turf at both Del Mar and Hollywood Park last year, is coming off a game second at odds of 11-1 in the Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita April 9. The bay gelding rallied between horses in the Arcadia but came up a half-length shy to front-running Liberian Freighter in the Arcadia. Julien Couton has the call on Blue Chagall for the first time.
Canani captured the race most recently in 2006 with Charmo and also won it in 2000 with Ladies Din and 1999 with Tuzla.
Also shipping from Southern California is Sebastian Flyte, an English-bred 4-year-old colt by Observatory whose biggest effort in this country came in a close second-place finish in last fall's Hollywood Derby (gr. IT).
Trained by Ben Cecil for Triple B Farms, Sebastian Flyte won a 1 1/8-mile allowance on the Santa Anita turf in his most recent start April 7. Group-placed in both England and Ireland, he has won two of six U.S. starts. Patrick Valenzuela has the mount.
Jerry Hollendorfer, winner of the SF Mile in 2003 with Ninebanks, entered a pair: New Zealand-bred Our Nautique and Dream Nettie.
Our Nautique ran second in Santa Anita's one-mile March Madness Handicap March 26 and has an allowance win at the mile distance on the Golden Gate course. Dream Nettie has lost five in a row since taking the La Puente Stakes as a 3-year-old last season on the turf at Santa Anita.
Gallant Son has gone more than a year since his last win in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood. He stretches out for trainer Frank Lucarelli following a hard-trying fifth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside course April 16.
Baton Roo and Hudson Landing each exit one-mile allowance wins over the course, while Spendthrift Farm's Times Gone By looks to end an eight-race skid for trainer Richard Mandella.
$100,000 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT, Race 7, 3:45 p.m.), 4 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Our Nautique (NZ), K Krigger, J Hollendorfer
2. Times Gone By (KY), B Blanc, R E Mandella
3. Sebastian Flyte (GB), P A Valenzuela, B D Cecil
4. Baton Roo (CA), A T Gryder, A Mathis
5. Gallant Son (KY), W Antongeorgi III, F Lucarelli
6. Dream Nettie (KY), J J Hernandez, J Hollendorfer
7. Bold Chieftain (CA), R A Baze, W J Morey Jr.
8. Hudson Landing (KY), F T Alvarado, W E Morey
9. Blue Chagall (FR), J Couton, J C Canani
All carry 122 pounds.
Blinkers On: Times Gone By