ELMONT, NY – Alice Bamford’s homebred Californiagoldrush proved that not all west coast turf horses are a step below their eastern counterparts when she shipped to Belmont Park and took Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Sands Point Stakes.
Breaking from post 7 under fellow southern California shipper Flavien Prat as the slight 3/1 favorite, Californiagoldrush was forced to run three-wide in mid-pack through the first turn while Shadan set the early pace. The initial fractions came across as :25.85, :52.05, and 1:17.06, which was of no surprise over the yielding inner turf course. Prat must have felt that they were almost too slow because he sent Californiagoldrush to run alongside the pacesetter before the field was even halfway down the backside. Taking command midway through the far turn, Californiagoldrush was soon met with a challenge from Secret Message to her outside, but the Neil Drysdale trainee dug in gamely and held off her foe to win by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:54.06 for the 1 1/8-mile event.
“I was trying to get over on the first turn and they were walking up front, so I decided to get a little closer down the backside,” Prat said. “I was a little worried about the track, it’s pretty soft, but she handled it well and she’s all class. She’s only gotten beat once, in a Grade 1 after a six-month layoff, so she’s very talented. She just keeps improving and making us happy.”
Colonia rallied late for third, taking it by a length over Reversethedecision and Victorine, who crossed simultaneously in fourth in a dead heat. Shadan weakened to finish sixth by a 1/2-length over Capla Temptress, while Barkaa never threatened and completed the order of finish.
Californiagoldrush’s win was her third in four starts, with her lone loss coming last out in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, where she finished a close third. The 3-year-old daughter of Cape Blanco has now earned $322,000 in her lightly-raced career.
Californiagoldrush returned $8.30 to win, $4.60 to place, and $4 to show. Secret Message brought back $9.30 to place and $5.80 to show, while Colonia paid $6.90 to show.