Odds-on choice Spring House, guided off the rail in the homestretch by Russell Baze, wore down Yacht Spotter in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the $100,000 Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) May 30.
The Southern California shipper was content to track a glacial pace in the 1 3/8-mile test of older horses and came home 1 1/4 lengths in front of Sir Dave, who tagged the tiring Yacht Spotter for second. It was the second win in five starts this year for Spring House, a 7-year-old Chester House gelding who is owned by his co-breeder, R.D. Hubbard.
Trained by Julio Canani, the long-distance specialist was making his initial start at the Albany, Calif. track. He arrived off a runner-up finish to the front-running Midships in the about 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) on closing day of the Santa Anita meet.
The race unfolded in much the same manner as the 'Capistrano. Spring House, along the inside, tracked the pace as Yacht Spotter, left alone on the lead with Alex Bisono aboard, carved fractions of :26.04, :50.98 and 1:17.29. Shem and Ordination, racing closest to the leader, applied pressure on the far turn, but Yacht Spotter spurted away to lead by daylight once again after completing the mile in 1:42.09.
"I thought there'd be more pace pressure on Yacht Spotter," said Baze. "I was a little bit concerned turning for home when Yacht Spotter opened up on us but once I got my horse running I was confident we'd run him down."
In upper stretch, Baze urged Spring House along the inside and the dark bay responded to surge by Shem and Ordination.
The 3-5 favorite had Yacht Spotter's measure as they passed the furlong marker and won easily as Sir Dave and Chad Schvaneveldt picked up the place spot by one length. Yacht Spotter held on for third by three-quarters of a length over the Irish-bred Ordination. The winning time was a slow 2:19.62 over firm going.
"When I got this horse in the clear, he made his move," Baze said. "He changed gears. I just had to keep him focused."
Spring House is well proven at the 11-furlong distance, winning the Del Mar Handicap (gr. II) last summer. He also has three victories at 12 furlongs, including the last two renewals of Santa Anita's San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT). The one thing eluding the the veteran campaigner, who owns a lifetime mark of 9-6-11 in 41 starts and earnings of $841,284, is a grade I victory.
Bred in partnership with Rio Claro Thoroughbreds and C. Sczesnywhere, Spring House is out of the Brazilian mare Spring Star, by Itajara.
Under equal weights of 123 pounds, Spring House paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Sir Dave, recently purchased privately by La Canada Stables, returned $6 and $4 in his graded stakes debut for trainer Jack Carava. The $2 exacta was worth $20.40. Yacht Spotter, coming off a close second-place finish in last month's San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT), was $3.20 to show.
Ordination was followed by Lockford, Obrigado, Shem, and Court Rule. Porfido scratched.