01/05/2010 12:00AM

Antares World shows guts

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Antares World (right) and Frank Alvarado hold off Fashion Trend to win the California Oaks on Friday at Golden Gate.

There are many ways for a horse to impress on the racetrack. One way is to pull clear for a multi-length victory such as Secretariat did in the Belmont. Another is putting in a game effort such as Affirmed did in his Belmont victory over Alydar.

Antares World's victory over Fashion Trend in the California Oaks on Friday at Golden Gate was of the Affirmed variety, as the two battled head-and-head down the stretch, neither yielding an inch.

Trainer Steve Specht said he knew going into the race that Antares World had a competitive streak.

"She's just that way all the time," he said. "She's competitive. She gives you all she's got."

The head victory gave Antares World her third win in her last four starts - her only loss in that stretch came by a neck in the Corte Madera in December - and has prompted Specht to start looking at races for Antares World in Southern California. The major upcoming races there for 3-year-old fillies that suit Antares World are the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Feb. 6 and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 6, but Specht said he would like to stay away from graded races with her.

Antares World, under Frank Alvarado, was only a length off pacesetter Seeking the Queen early in the 1 1/16-mile California Oaks, and Specht said he wishes she would relax a little more.

"That would make her closing kick even better," he said.

"I think relaxing early comes with experience. She's not a nervous filly. It will come with her."

Antares World held off the maiden Fashion Trend. A full sister to graded stakes winner Island Fashion, Fashion Trend had three seconds and a third in her four previous starts, including a pair of runner-up efforts at 1 1/16 miles. None of the other four fillies had run that far.

Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. said Fashion Trend has a lot of ability but is still learning.

"We got beat by a tough filly, so there's no complaint there," he said. "That filly knows how to win."

As for Seeking the Queen, she seemed rank from the moment the gate opened and set slow fractions of 24.28 seconds and 49.23 under Russell Baze. By the time the field hit the far turn, she was tiring.

"It was her first time around two turns, and she was confused," Baze said. "Right from get-go, she was lugging out with me. She was fighting me pretty much the whole way."

Lady Railrider out till fall

Specht also trains multiple stakes winner Lady Railrider, who has been taken out of training with quarter cracks in both front hooves. A 5-year-old mare, Lady Railrider was being pointed to the Sunshine Millions.

Specht said he expects her to return to racing by the fall.

Lady Railrider won the California Cup Matron at Santa Anita and the Pacific Heights on the turf at Golden Gate in her final two starts of 2009.

Baze tops in wins again

Several locally based jockeys and trainers ranked among the nation's leaders in 2009.

Baze led the nation in wins for the 11th time, while scoring 415 victories. It was the third straight year that he led the nation's riders in victories. He defeated Ramon Dominguez by 24 victories.

Baze's winning percentage was 31.2 and earned him his 14th Isaac Murphy Award, given by the National Turf Writers Association to the rider with the highest win percentage (minimum 500 mounts) in the nation. Baze has won the award every year since its inception in 1995 except one.

Baze ranked 31st in the country in earnings with $6,468,824.

Alvarado had 235 wins, tying for 16th in the nation. William Antongeorgi III tied for 49th with 168 wins.

Jerry Hollendorfer, who annually leads Northern California trainers in victories, finished third nationally among U.S. trainers with 273 victories and, thanks to Southern California-based runners such as multiple Grade 1 winner Blind Luck, fifth in earnings with $7,309,169.

Steve Sherman trained 137 winners to finish 21st nationally. Billy Morey had 126, tying for 26th. Steve Miyadi tied for 44th with 102 victories.

Bold Chieftain headed south

Bold Chieftain, who earned millionaire status for trainer Bill Morey Jr. when he became the first two-time winner of the Cal Cup Classic last year, is heading to Santa Anita for starts in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap and the Jan. 30 $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic.

Morey was very happy with the

7-year-old horse's 47.80 half-mile drill in company at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday and planned to ship south Tuesday morning.