I'madrifter began 2003 the same way he kicked off 2002 – with gate-to-wire victory in the $83,100 Lafayette Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.Virtually duplicating his score from a year earlier, when he posted a 1 1/2-length victory on a sloppy racetrack, I'madrifter won Wednesday's edition of the Lafayette by the same amount on a track rated wet-fast. I'madrifter, trained by Steve Specht, bettered his winning time by nearly two full seconds (1:33.98 compared to 1:35.89) while performing on a hard-bottomed track that was playing very fast. Kevin Krigger, a 19-year-old native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, earned his first stakes win Wednesday by guiding I'madrifter to victory. Krigger finished second in the 2002 Lafayette aboard Poker Brad, who couldn't catch I'madrifter and jockey Roberto Gonzalez. "Steve (trainer Specht) told me to get him on the lead and he'll relax," said Krigger. "He broke well and I got him clear early. When I lifted my hands on the backstretch, he relaxed for me. I had a lot of horse left for the stretch and the more I asked, the more he gave."It feels great to get my first stakes win. It's a great way to start off a new year."Specht was pleased with the way Krigger followed the pre-race instructions."I told Kevin, 'If they try to run with you, bury 'em,'" said Specht. "When this horse gets clear, he gets real brave. He's one dimensional, but when he gets his way he's real tough."
I'madrifter took command immediately and was never challenged on the lead while setting fast fractions of :22.36, :45.32 and 1:09.11. Halo Cat raced in second throughout the race and took the place spot by 3 1/2 lengths over Chinkapin. I'madrifter, a 5-year-old horse owned by Daniel O'Neill of San Francisco, has six victories in 19 career starts. The Lafayette win was worth $49,350 and increased his earnings to $208,275.I'madrifter was part of four-horse entry with Halo Cat, Chinkapin and Surprized. The entry went off at 3-5 in the betting and I'madrifter paid $3.20 to win.TRACK NOTE: The 4-year-old gelding Contradiction set a Golden Gate Fields track record for five furlongs when he won the sixth race (for $12,500-$10,500 claimers) in :56.12 seconds. The time bettered the previous mark of :56.40 set by multiple stakes-winner Valley Land on April 8, 1990. Russell Baze rode Contradiction for trainer Pete Wilson and owner Windmill Racing Inc. (Chart, Equibase)