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Last year, trainer Victor Trujillo watched his gelding Kiwi's Dream run a terrific race, only to lose by a neck to Southern California shipper Neptune's Storm, in the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile.
This year, Trujillo returns with Kiwi's Dream, an Australian-bred who makes his second start of 2021 in the `Mile at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, April 24.
Kiwi's Dream had a case of "seconditis" last year. He had to settle for the runner up spot in four separate stakes: the San Francisco Mile, The All American, The Wickerr and The Rolling Green. All four efforts were admirable tries against good company.
Race 9 at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, April 24 - Post 8:05 PM
|1||Kiwi's Dream (AUS)||5-1||Irving Orozco
|2||Keeper Ofthe Stars||6-1||Frank Alvarado
|3||Whisper Not (GB)||3-1||Geovanni Franco
|4||Diamond Blitz||30-1||Assael Espinoza
|5||Ohio (BRZ)||6-1||Ricardo Gonzalez
|6||Border Town||7-2||Evin Roman
|7||Brown Storm (CHI)||9-2||Kyle Frey
Heading into the 2021 edition of the San Francisco Mile, Trujillo has planted a steady series of morning drills into his stable star, including a pair of 7-furlong workouts, a bullet five-furlong drill, and a handful of sharp half-mile breezes. Working fast is not uncharacteristic of Kiwi's Dream, however. He's a good horse...and a front runner, too.
On Saturday, Kiwi's Dream will have another speed foe to deal with in Diamond Blitz, a gelding who typically opens up 8 to 10 lengths early on in his races. With that in mind, the trip Kiwi's Dream receives in the `Mile may not be one we've seen with him before.
"We've never seen [Kiwi's Dream] stalking the pace in a route race," said Trujillo. "To be honest, I'm not 100% sure what type of trip he's going to get. I'm going to leave it up to the jockey [Irving Orozco]. He's training well coming into this race and we have a good horse."
Trujillo, a longtime Bay Area horseman, also saddles 3-year-old filly Liam's Secret in the California Oaks. The daughter of Liam's Map broke her maiden at first asking in March and enters the `Oaks off a third-place finish routing on turf.
"She has always showed that she could run," said Trujillo of Liam's Secret. "[The California Oaks] is not an easy race but we are going in as ready as we can be. She's always done things the right way and she is training good."
Jockey Ricky Gonzalez moved his tack to Southern California last summer and has since held his own on the Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, and Del Mar circuit. For 25-year-old Gonzalez, nostalgia may kick in Saturday afternoon at Golden Gate Fields, where he picked up steam as a top apprentice in 2013 and 2014 before having a successful stint as a journeyman from late 2014 to last summer.
"I miss my friends [at Golden Gate]," said Gonzalez. "I'm happy to be back. It'll be good to see everyone."
Gonzalez hops aboard Ohio in the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile, the marquee race of the second annual Gold Rush Weekend this Saturday and Sunday. Ohio is trained by Michael McCarthy.
"[Ohio] is a pro," says Gonzalez. "He is easy to ride. He knows what to do."
Ohio, a 10-year-old Brazilian-bred by Elusive Quality, sports quite the resume. In 2019, he won the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita and is the only horse in the history of Arizona horse racing to win three consecutive Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile's. In his career, Ohio has made 11 winners circle appearances, with nine other in-the-money finishes and earnings of $639,298.
Trainer Michael McCarthy, who conditions both Ohio and another `Mile contender in Brown Storm, relayed that both of his entrants are doing well heading into Northern California's premier horse race.
"Ohio is a really cool horse," said McCarthy. "He's 10 now and has really been a nice surprise that fell into our lap. He's getting older and smarter and knows what his job is. It looks like he'll get a great scenario with a projected fast pace in the race. I expect him to run well. Brown Storm is training great. Off a layoff last time out, he might have been a work or two short [to being 100% cranked up], but [jockey] John Velazquez came back after his race and said that he thought the horse ran well and could take a step forward. The way he's training, it wouldn't surprise me if he won."
Gonzalez rides in three other stakes on the Saturday card. He'll guide Grade I Del Mar Oaks winner Red Lark in the $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes for trainer Paddy Gallagher. Gallagher and Gonzalez also team up in Race 10, the $75,000 California Oaks, with European import Styledome. Gonzalez is named on two horses in the $75,000 Camilla Urso for filly and mare turf sprinters: Sadie Bluegrass and Five Pics Please. The latter filly is on the "also eligible" list and will need two defections to draw into the main body of the field. If she does not run, then Gonzalez will be aboard Sadie Bluegrass, who made the field on entry day Wednesday.
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