Bold Chieftain, sent off at odds of 3-10, was in solid position throughout 1 1/16-mile turf test, stalking just off the front-running Our Partner, ridden by Kyle Kaenel, through so-so fractions (:24.54, :48.22, and 1:11.67). Baze urged his mount at the quarter pole, and Bold Chieftain soon challenged for the lead. The final time was 1:42.36 on firm going.
With the scratch of leading contenders Now Victory and Heroi Do Bafra, the field was reduced to five. Trainer Dean Pederson said Now Victory, who won this race in front-running style by two lengths last year, sustained a minor injury and would be sidelined indefinitely.
Bold Chieftain, trained by William J. Morey Jr., for the partnership of Dwaine Hall, Langbein Trust, the Morey family Trust, et al, recorded his third straight stakes win at Bay Meadows. Bold Chieftain captured the Presidents' Day Mile Feb. 18 and the March Madness Handicap March 22. The 5-year-old Chief Seattle horse ran fourth in last year's Bay Meadows Handicap.
"He just keeps on winning," said Baze, who said his mount was a little laid-back Saturday. "He was a little quiet in the post parade and more relaxed than usual in the race. I was a little concerned. On the turn, the leader was starting to get away from us, so I got after him pretty good.
"Once he changed leads in the stretch, he jumped on the bit and cut. I was thinking, 'What was I worried about?' When he switched leads and leveled, it was over. What a cool horse."
Morey said Bold Chieftain is a grinder.
"This horse doesn't have that big burst," said Morey. "As he straightens out in the stretch, he wears down other horses. He doesn't swoop."
Morey is mapping out a schedule for Bold Chieftain, who collected his 10th victory in 18 career starts.
"The ultimate goal is the Longacres Mile (gr. III), but we're looking at the Berkeley Stakes at Golden Gate Fields," said Morey. "It'd be nice to get him a graded stakes win."
The $150,000 Berkeley Stakes (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile race, will be run May 26 at Golden Gate Fields. The $300,000 Longacres Mile (gr. III) is Aug. 17 at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash.
Bold Chieftain banked $75,000 for Saturday's victory and boosted his career earnings to $628,025.
The winner carried high weight of 121 pounds and paid $2.60, $2.40, and $2.10. Our Partner, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, returned $4.80 and $2.40. Richard Mandella raider Boboman was $2.10 to show, with Cooperation and Vega's Lord trailing.
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