ARCADIA, Calif. (April 5, 2014)–A close fifth going into the far turn, longshot Alert Bay, with Tyler Baze up, rallied at the rail to win Saturday’s $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes by a half length over a fast-finishing Life Is a Joy, providing trainer Blaine Wright with his first-ever Santa Anita stakes win while covering 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.61.
“This is my first stakes win here,” said Wright, who is based at Golden Gate Fields. “I’ve been training my whole life, really, but on my own since 2006. Tyler and I go back a ways…We told him the track was real tight today, try to stay as close as you can without taking the run away from him. I said ‘Watch when the dirt hits him in the face,’ because he’s run on turf, he run on Tapeta synthetic, and sometimes those horses get to stinging a little bit in their face and they’ll back up.”
Owned by Peter Redekop B.C., Ltd., Alert Bay broke his maiden two starts back at Santa Anita going a mile on turf and the 3-year-old gelding by City Zip came off a first condition allowance win going a mile at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 23.
“This was his first time on natural dirt,” said Bryan Anderson, racing manager for Redekop, who explained why Baze was selected to ride Alert Bay, instead of Julien Couton, who had ridden him last time out at Golden Gate. “Baze rode him here before…and we like both riders, but since (Tyler) rode him here at Santa Anita last time we kept him on and he’ll ride him here again. It’s one of those calls you make (as an owner).”
The Echo Eddie, which is part of the CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for California-bred or sired 3-year-olds, attracted a field of eight and, at 9-1, Alert Bay was the fifth choice in the wagering. He paid $20.20, $8.60 and $5.20. .
Alert Bay picked up his third win from 6 starts and banked $110,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $187,800.
“I wanted to keep him close to the pace,” said Baze. Halfway down the backside, I had a chance to ease him out of the tight spot we were in and give him a breather. He took a deep breath going into the far turn and I said ‘It’s time to go!’ I didn’t know how he would take getting dirt kicked in his face…but it didn’t bother him. He’s a phenomenal animal, he’s professional.”
Ridden by Gary Stevens and one of three horses trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Life Is a Joy was last turning for home and rallied stoutly wide out to finish second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Well Measured.
“The horse really improved today,” said Stevens. “He ran super big for us. I wish we were a little closer. It was tough coming from behind and going six wide.
Off at 7-1, Life Is a Joy paid $7.40 and $5.00.
Next to last after the first quarter mile, Well Measured was third turning for home and was tagged late for the place by Life Is a Joy. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Well Measured finished third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of 3-1 second choice Pray Hard and Kent Desormeaux.
Off at 9-1, Well Measured paid $6.00 to show.
Trained by Hollendorfer and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Whine for Wine, the 2-1 favorite, was a close fourth early, but tired through the drive to finish last.