Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze made his first-ever foray to Calder Racecourse Sunday and returned to California with a victory aboard David S. Romanik's homebred Southern Cal in the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint Handicap to his credit.
Racing along the inside in the five-furlong dash on a yielding grass course, Southern Cal drew off to a 2 3/4-length triumph, stopping the timer in :59.12. The winner was worth $20.80, $9.20, and $6.00 to his backers. Gin Rummy Champ finished second, paying $18.20 and $8.80. True Love's Secret paid $5.60 for third.
"I was actually using this race as a prep for him for some later races, like a springboard for some longer races here," trainer Ron Spatz said. "He has some minor physical problems that keep him from training too much. Sprinting is really not his game, as he has to use himself hard. Sometimes he runs into the turns too fast and just doesn't make them that well. But he did well today and I'm very pleased."
Despite his name and the connection of his jockey, Southern Cal is a Florida-bred and Florida-based son of Halo's Image
. The victory was the first in stakes company for Southern Cal, who has won half his 12 career starts and earned $158,790.