Grade I winner Siren Lure brings a three-race winning streak into the $300,000 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT), where he'll be looking to pass the $1 million mark in career earnings April 25 at Golden Gate Fields.
Twelve are entered in the turf event, which is Northern California's only grade II race and the region's most lucrative race. Each carries 122 pounds. Siren Lure, to be ridden by Chad Schvaneveldt, will have to overcome the far outside starting post.
With lifetime earnings of $982,244, the 8-year-old gelding Siren Lure could go over the million mark by finishing fourth or better in the San Francisco Mile. Among his 15 victories in 35 races, the accomplished sprinter captured the 2006 Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
A former claiming horse, the son of Joyeux Danseur will be testing his two-turn capability. The three victories in his current winning streak were all accomplished at six furlongs on Golden Gate's synthetic Tapeta racing surface. In his most recent start, the Golden Gate Fields Sprint Stakes March 21, Siren Lure came from last in a five-horse field to win by one length.
Siren Lure is trained by Steve Sherman and owned in partnership by Stuart Kesselman and Tony and Marilyn Melkonian. Sherman took over the training of Siren Lure last fall for his father, Art Sherman, who is now based in Southern California.
Art Sherman, on behalf of Kesselman and the Melkonians, claimed Siren Lure for $50,000 in May 2005. Siren Lure has earned $881,809 in 26 starts for the ownership group. His 11 victories since being claimed include nine stakes triumphs, three of them graded. He has won six times in 13 tries on turf.
The hard-hitting Bold Chieftain can also go over the $1 million milestone with a victory in the San Francisco Mile. A 6-year-old horse who has 11 wins 25 lifetime starts, Bold Chieftain has $840,411 in earnings.
Bold Chieftain is trained by William J. Morey, Jr., who owns and bred the horse in partnership with Ernest Langbein, Kenneth Robinson and Dwaine Hall. A California-bred son of Chief Seattle, Bold Chieftain has won eight stakes, including the $250,000 California Cup Classic Handicap at Santa Anita in 2007. His record includes five wins in 12 grass starts.
Bold Chieftain raced in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) last fall at Santa Anita, finishing eighth, although he was beaten less than six lengths by the brilliant winner Goldikova. Bold Chieftain finished third in a one-mile allowance race in his tune-up April 3 on the Golden Gate turf, finishing behind SF Mile rivals Ferneley and Yacht Spotter.
Jockey Roberto Gonzalez will take over on the dark bay, replacing regular rider Russell Baze, who jumps to Ferneley, an impressive 3 1/4-length winner in the April 3 allowance.
The Irish-bred Ferneley is seeking his first stakes victory in the United States since arriving at trainer Ben Cecil's barn last summer. Ferneley ran second in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) and third in the San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) during the just-concluded Sant Anita meet.
A solid pace seems assured with the presence of Liberian Freighter and the returning Storm Military.
The California-bred Liberian Freighter, trained by Neil Drysdale, is coming off a 1 1/2-length win over SF Mile foe Mr. Wolverine in the Sensational Star Handicap for state-breds on Santa Anita's hillside turf course March 29.
The Bobby Frankel-trained Storm Military makes his first start since tiring to eighth in the Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT) Aug. 24. The stakes-winning 7-year-old Argentina-bred ran third in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) prior to that.
Among the other Southern California shippers are Mr Napper Tandy, who ran second in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) April 4, and Sky Cape, who finished fourth in the same race.
Autism Awareness, winner of the 2008 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at odds of 62-1, will carry many of the local hopes. Johnny Taboada's 4-year-old colt is coming off a one-length win over an optional claiming allowance field at Golden Gate March 21.
$300, San Francisco Mile Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:45 p.m.), 4 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Our Partner (MD), William Antongeorgi III
2. Liberian Freighter (CA), Jesus M. Rios
3. Storm Military (ARG), Brice Blanc
4. Silent Soul (KY), Ignacio Puglisi
5. Mr Napper Tandy (GB), Julio A. Garcia
6. Bold Chieftain (CA), Roberto M. Gonzalez
7. Sky Cape (KY), Danny Sorenson
8. Ferneley (IRE), Russell A. Baze
9. Autism Awareness (CA), Omar Figueroa
10. Mr. Wolverine (CA), Jose Valdivia, Jr.
11. Yacht Spotter (KY), Alex Bisono
12. Siren Lure (KY), Chad P. Schvaneveldt
Each assigned 122 pounds.