This is the big 2-year-old stake of the Alameda County Fair, a much anticipated race each summer. The 5.5 furlong dash is the sixth race on the Pleasanton card and is set for 4:15 p.m. post.
Let’s go through the field in post-position order:
1) Shady Appeal (Jeff Bonde trainer, Edwin Maldonado jockey, 2/1). Jeff Bonde brings this one north to his hometown for a race very dear to the Bonde family. The horse has one start, a gate to wire score at Santa Anita where he went off at 2/1. Led from the first jump and crossed the line over three lengths clear.
2) Tiger in My Tank (Jack Steiner, Armando Ayuso, 5/1). Debuted June 11 at Golden Gate Fields with a stalking win, taking the lead at the top of the lane, then holding on to win by a head.
3) Dreamfyre (O.J. Jauregui, Francisco Duran, 12/1). This one is picking a heck of a spot for the debut. The barn is 0-for-12 with debuts, but there is a strong series of works for this spot, three of which have come over the track.
4) Lusma (Jose Bautista, Hugo Herrera, 20/1). This seems like an ambitious placing, but you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Did get the maiden score last out beating one of the others entered. Closed strong and just got up to score by a neck. Could be a pace factor.
5) Wild Jewels (Steve Specht, Catalino Martinez, 9/2). It’s Steve Specht, it’s a stakes race on the summer Fair circuit and that means he has a shot here. His debut came here on June 25 and was an impressive one, breaking on top then gradually increasing he win, scoring by five lengths. Should be very tough over the track.
6) Halo Rando (Steve Specht, Frank Alvarado, 10/1). The horse has a second and a third in two starts with both coming from off the pace. The winner in each of the races is entered here. Very tough to go against these connections, but I do think the stablemate is the better of the two.
7) Last Call London (Peter Miller, Evin Roman, 7/2). Another Sourthern California shipper from a strong barn. A third and a second were followed by a win. The win was an impressive win, splitting foes and drawing off by over four lengths. Major player in this spot.
8) Blevys Tiger (Manny Badilla, Assael Espinoza, 8/1). Broke at second asking going gate to wire to win by a length. Could be one of the early pace setters and will be in the lead group to catch.
9) Kristen Lee (Faith Taylor, William Antongeorgi III, 10/1). Made the debut here on June 24 a winning one, setting the pace then drawing off to win by one two lengths. Performance over the track has him in the conversation.
How does it play out: I think this one comes down to how the rail is playing on the day. You must like any Jeff Bonde horse with speed over the Pleasanton track, especially in the race with great meaning to the Bonde family. I just don’t see him bringing the horse up without a very strong family. But, and it’s a big butt, if the rail is slow and soupy it will be a nightmare. The other SoCal horse – Last Call London – has run very well in tougher races than the NorCal horses have seen so that is a major player as well. I like the Steve Specht horse Wild Jewels based on the straight maiden score over the track. The horse breaks from a great spot and if he gets out clean, he has a great chance to be right there. Broke out of the 6 hole in a 6-horse field in the debut and now breaks fifth in a 9-horse field so will be surrounded. I would lean towards those three horses but in the end have to go with the King of Pleasanton picking up another Nevin win!