Millionaire Bold Chieftain scored the first graded stakes win of his 36-race career when he collared favored pacesetter Monterey Jazz in the final strides by a determined half-length in the $150,000 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) April 24 at Golden Gate Fields.
It was fitting that the classy 7-year-old horse, with regular rider Russell Baze aboard, would get his milestone win at his home track in the only grade II race on the Northern California calendar. It was Bold Chieftain's 10th try in a graded stakes race for trainer William Morey Jr.
Morey owns the popular horse in partnership with Dwaine Hall, Kenneth Robinson and the Ernest Langein Trust. They also bred the dark bay or brown son of Chief Seattle—Hooked On Music, by Seattle Dancer, in California.
"This is the step we really wanted to get bad—a graded stakes win," Morey said. "It might make him more attractive as a papa somewhere. He's getting a little older, and he'll make a great stallion."
The victory certainly looked doubtful after grade II winner Monterey Jazz, favored at odds of 2-1 in eight-horse field, nursed soft fractions for jockey Tyler Baze into the stretch and opened up a three-length advantage by the eighth pole. That's when Bold Chieftain, in fourth approaching the furlong marker, angled out a bit for Russell Baze and took charge to gradually draw closer. When Monterey Jazz began to shorten stride late, Bold Chieftain pounced, getting up in the last couple of jumps to win in a time of 1:35.21 on a firm course.
"I thought that (Monterey Jazz) had an easy lead and might be tough to run down," Russell Baze said. "But this horse, he's a warrior. He knows what he's supposed to do. When I asked the question, he had the answer."
Tyler Baze had a tight hold on the speedy Monterey Jazz, known to run off on occasion, and they set a sensible pace with quarter-mile fractions of :24.21, :47.75 and 1:11.06 while tracked by Red Sun, making his first stakes appearance with Michael Martinez aboard. Leaving the final turn, Monterey Jazz inched away from Red Sun and took a commanding lead in upper stretch.
Bold Chieftain, who broke on the lead before dropping into a ground-saving trip in fourth for Russell Baze, did not appear to be coming fast enough to catch Monterey Jazz. But he picked it up for the incomparable Baze in the final sixteenth to get the job done.
Red Sun held on for third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Bold Chieftain.
Bold Chieftain had dropped nine races in a row last year when he scored a five-length win in the Governor's Handicap at Cal Expo in Sacramento last September. Since then, the veteran campaigner has won six of seven races.
"I think it's like any sports event, when you win you gain confidence," the veteran trainer Morey said. "We took him up to Sacramento it was a do-or-die deal. He won that and he's been a tiger since. He loves to train."
Morey credited his training staff for getting Bold Chieftain his elusive win. "This is a tough horse, believe me," he said.
His career mark stands at 17-6-4 with earnings of $1,522,151. Bold Chieftain's record includes 13 stakes victories, mostly in state-bred company, and five prior grades stakes placings.
Bold Chieftain, as the odds-on favorite, defeated Monterey Jazz by three-quarters of a length in a one-mile allowance over Golden Gate's synthetic Tapeta main track on April 2. That was the Southern California-based Monterey Jazz's first start since last October, however, and he was a much tougher rival this time around.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Bold Chieftain paid $8.80, $4.20, and $3 and topped a $23.60 exacta. Monterey Jazz, now winless in five starts for trainer Craig Dollase since he captured the American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park last July 4, returned $4.20 and $3. Red Sun, whose four-race winning streak ended for trainer Carla Gaines, was $3.40 to show.