OUR SILVER OAK RALLIES TO WIN $200,000 SNOW CHIEF STAKES BY A HEAD UNDER SMITH; UNUSUAL HEAT GELDING PROVIDES WONG WITH FIRST SANTA ANITA STAKES VICTORY AS HE GETS 1 1/8 MILES ON TURF IN 1:50.04
RACE IS PART OF LUCRATIVE GOLDEN STATE SERIES FOR CALIFORNIA-BRED OR SIRED HORSES
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 22, 2019)–Based at Golden Gate Fields, Our Silver Oak rallied from off the pace and outran a determined Irish Heatwave to prevail by a head in Saturday’s $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Mike Smith, the 3-year-old Unusual Heat gelding provided trainer Jonathan Wong with his first Santa Anita stakes win by traversing a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:50.04.
Named for the Mel Stute-conditioned California-bred son of Reflected Glory, who was named Eclipse Champion 3-year-old male of 1986, the Snow Chief Stakes is part of the lucrative Golden State Series. Sponsored by the CTBA, the Golden State series is for California-bred or sired horses.
Breaking from the rail in a field of nine California-bred or sired sophomores, Our Silver Oak was in the two-path around the Club House turn and although he was next to last at the five furlong pole, he was full of run as Smith began working his way towards to the front of the pack. Fifth turning for home, Our Silver Oak wheeled about four-deep heading into the stretch and kept to his task in game fashion.
“I had a really, really good trip, even though the horse was really tough to saddle and my saddle did start to move back in the paddock before we came out,” said Smith, who was riding Our Silver Oak for the first time. “But I didn’t want to go over there (to re-saddle) and get him all riled up. It wasn’t bad enough where I couldn’t ride him as hard as I want to, but I didn’t need to, so it worked out good.”
Most recently second, beaten a nose by Irish Heatwave in the state-bred Silky Sullivan Stakes at one mile over the Golden Gate turf on April 28, Our Silver Oak, who is out of the Alphabet Soup mare Strawberry Flash and was bred in California by CHRB Commissioner Madeline Auerbach, was off as the 2-1 favorite and paid $6.00, $3.20 and $2.60.
Owned by Robert Jones, Michael Nentwig and Ray Pagano, Our Silver Oak notched his first stakes win and improved his overall mark to 11-2-4-2. With the winner’s share of $110,000, he now has earnings of $224,694.
“Mike Smith, he’s the man,” said Wong, who has become a perennial leading trainer at Golden Gate. “You can’t get a better rider…(Our Silver Oak) is best as a turf runner, especially being by Unusual Heat, he’s bred up and down for grass. He is just a really cool horse. I am very grateful for everyone who gave me the opportunity to train him and Mike Smith for the great ride.”
Irish Heatwave, who appeared to very keen up the backside, just missed in a big effort and finished three quarters of a length in front of Lieutenant Dan for the place. The second choice at 3-1, Irish Heatwave, who was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, paid $3.60 and $2.80.
Ridden by Geovanni Franco, Lieutenant Dan pressed the pace throughout and finished a half length better than longshot Prodigal Son. Off at 4-1, Lieutenant Dan paid 3.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.63, 48.03, 1:12.69 and 1:37.54.