12/26/2014 7:36PM

Alert Bay gives trainer day to remember

Benoit & Associates
Alert Bay and Jockey Tyler Baze hold off Home Run Kitten to win the Mathis Brothers Mile on Friday and give trainer Blaine Wright his first Grade 2 victory.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Alert Bay gave trainer Blaine Wright his first Santa Anita stakes win when the gelding won the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for California-bred sprinters last March. Friday, Alert Bay gave Wright his first win in a Grade 2 stakes in the $201,250 Mathis Brothers Mile on turf at Santa Anita.

Patiently ridden by Tyler Baze, Alert Bay ($20.40) stalked the pace to early stretch and outfinished Home Run Kitten to win by a neck, finishing in 1:35.06.

Wright had a few anxious moments when Alert Bay raced behind pacesetters Red Outlaw and Heart to Heart in the last half-mile.

“I thought he could win if he got out,” Wright said.

Baze, who rode Alert Bay in the Echo Eddie, said: “He’s a push-button horse, very game. I had confidence in the horse.”

Alert Bay was fifth halfway through the race, trailing leader Red Outlaw, who set fractions of 23.37 seconds for the opening-quarter-mile and 46.76 seconds for a half-mile. Alert Bay was third behind stretch leader Heart to Heart and Red Outlaw with a furlong remaining, and overcame a sustained challenge from Home Run Kitten, who closed from sixth in a field of 10.

Home Run Kitten, who was ridden by Joe Talamo, trailed by 3 1/2 lengths with a quarter-mile remaining.

“He ran his race,” said David Hofmans, who trains Home Run Kitten. “The fractions were a little softer than I expected. Joe said he tried the whole way.”

Awesome Return, a 17-1 shot, finished third, followed by Heart to Heart, Talco, Red Outlaw, Long on Value, Patriots Rule, Sawyer’s Hill and Louisiana Flyboy. Heart to Heart, coming off three consecutive stakes wins at Saratoga and Churchill Downs, was the 2-1 favorite.

Alert Bay won his fourth consecutive race, all stakes, in the Mathis Brothers Mile, which was previously known as the Sir Beaufort Stakes. Owned by Peter Redekop, Alert Bay has won 7 of 13 starts and earned $617,207. His previous three wins came in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby and Grade 3 Premiers Handicap at Hastings Park and the Zia Park Derby at Zia Park.