11/26/2014 8:08PM

Alert Bay surges clear in Zia Park Derby

Coady Photography
Alert Bay, with Rico Walcott aboard, wins the Zia Park Derby by three lengths Wednesday.

Alert Bay is in the zone. He won his third straight stakes race Wednesday, pulling clear by three lengths over 3-5 favorite Tonito M. in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby. In the process, Alert Bay set a track record for 1 1/16 miles, covering the distance in 1:41.80. 

“He’d been touting us in his works at Golden Gate,” said Blaine Wright, who trains Alert Bay for Peter Redekop. 

The Zia Park Derby was one of seven stakes on the $1.1 million Land of Enchantment card. The centerpiece of the meet’s most prestigious program was the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks, won by Cassatt. 

The track-record time from Alert Bay ($7.20) lowered the mark of 1:41.94 set by Ol Winedrinker Who in the 2013 running of the $55,000 Veteran. Alert Bay on Wednesday was content to sit just off the pace set by Walt, who was pressured by Alsono through fractions of 23.48 seconds for the opening quarter and 47.10 for the half-mile.

Alert Bay moved to the fore through six furlongs in 1:10.72, then increased his advantage to the wire under jockey Rico Walcott.

“This race intrigued Mr. Redekop because it’s one of the last races for straight 3-year-olds,” Wright said. “Now, we’ll have to be facing older horses. He wanted to get the horse here if we could.”

Alert Bay had won consecutive Grade 3 races at Hastings, the British Columbia Derby and the Premiers Handicap, leading up to the Zia Park Derby. The horse is based at Golden Gate Fields, and Wright said a series of quick works over the Tapeta surface led him to believe the horse was ready for a big effort against what he felt was a competitive field.

Wright said Alert Bay would fly back to California on Sunday. He said the horse would now come under consideration for the California Cup program at Santa Anita on Jan. 24. One of the options on the program is the $250,000 Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles, Wright said, noting that the horse won his maiden on grass at Santa Anita.

“The horse can sprint,” he said, “but at the same time, it certainly looks like routing is his best situation.”

Alert Bay, a son of City Zip, earned $128,928 for his win in the Zia Park Derby. He has won 6 of 12 starts and $497,207. Alert Bay was bred in California by the partnership of Thomas Newton Bell and Ross John McLeod.

Proceed finished third in the Zia Park Derby, while it was another three lengths to Bay of Biscay in fourth.