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Baze made his choice, and Gryder is beneficiary
By Chuck Dybdal
SAN MATEO, Calif. - Sunday's Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint will include a familiar sight - Harry Aleo's bright orange colors aboard a heavy favorite. Aleo, who has owned such popular horses as Lost in the Fog, Vicarino and Victorina, will run Smokey Stover in the Bay Meadows BC. But there will be one thing different. Instead of Aleo's regular rider, Russell Baze, Aaron Gryder will be in the irons on Sunday.
Baze, the regular rider of Lost in the Fog, had ridden Smokey Stover in four of his first eight starts, including in a 10-length allowance victory at Golden Gate on Jan. 7. But Gryder rode Smokey Stover to victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint Jan. 27 at Santa Anita, and trainer Greg Gilchrist has given him the call back.
Baze could have ridden Smokey Stover in the Sprint, but he and agent Ray Harris chose instead to ride the undefeated 3-year-old Another Kris for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream.
Baze was also supposed to ride Secret Scheme that day at Gulfstream, but Hollendorfer decided to run her the next day in the Grade 1 Santa Monica at Santa Anita where she finished third.
"Russell had to make a choice whether to ride Smokey Stover or Jerry's horse," Gilchrist said of Sunshine Millions Day. "My only leverage was if the horse ran well, that rider would be given the chance to ride him back."
Smokey Stover defeated two of the best sprinters in the country, Proud Tower Too and Bordonaro, in the Sprint, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 113, the top sprint figure in the country this year.
"The horse ran the best race of his life and is now ranked the top sprinter in the country," Gilchrist said. "I gave Gryder the choice of riding him [on Sunday]. If Gryder didn't ride, I would have been very happy with Russell."
Baze worked Smokey Stover on Saturday, which, Gilchrist said, "shows real class." Smokey Stover went five furlongs in 58.40.
"He told me to have some fun with him, and I did," said Baze, who is still looking for a mount in the race.
Gilchrist ran Smokey Stover twice in a 20-day period when he won the Sunshine Millions, and he has given him six weeks between races this time.
"I trained him a little lighter into the race, but timing-wise, it's good," he said. "I wanted to stay at home, so giving him six weeks and not having to ship is perfect."
Only Trickey Trevor, a Grade 2 winner last year, is firmly committed to take on Smokey Stover in the $100,000 Bay Meadows BC, to be run at six furlongs. He ran third in the Fairfax at Golden Gate on Feb. 3, his first race since last August.
Smokey Stover was assigned 123 pounds for the race, which Gilchrist thought was fair. Trickey Trevor gets in at 115. Britt's Jules, who finished second ahead of Trickey Trevor in the Fairfax, is likely to run at 114.
Three Southern California runners are considered possible, Areyoutalkintome, Bashert, and Turnbolt.
Hollendorfer has 3 for El Camino Real
Hollendorfer is planning to enter three runners in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. They are California Derby winner Bwana Bull; Brave Sun, who has won three straight since being claimed by Hollendorfer; and Candy's Bro, who pressed stablemate Double Action's pace before fading in the California Derby.
Zoning In, who won the Malcolm Anderson here last year and comes off an allowance victory, will run for trainer Ed Moger Jr. Trainer Armando Lage said recent maiden-claiming winner Coalinga Kid might start, but only on an off track. The John Sadler-trained Court the King, who has won both of his starts, will come north for the race with jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. Freesgood, stablemate of Fountain of Youth runner-up Stormello and winner of the Cal Cup Juvenile, is considered "probable" by trainer William Currin.
Also possible are In the Woods, a Bobby Frankel trainee who lost by a nose in his recent debut at Santa Anita, and the stakes-placed Street Lights, who is trained by Carla Gaines.
Probation for trainer
The California Horse Racing Board placed trainer Brian Pitnick on probation for a year after his horse Theycallme Mr. Tim, who finished fourth in the 10th race Aug. 20, 2006, at the San Mateo County Fair, tested in excess of the limit for carbon dioxide. Pitnick also was fined $3,000, but the fine will be stayed if Pitnick has no medication violations during his probation.
Trainers Steve Miyadi and Manuel Calvario were both fined $300 for late scratches. The Miyadi-trained Set the Course was scratched March 1 for failure to have sufficient workouts. The Calvario-trained Corporateconnection was scratched Feb. 25 in a receiving barn mixup.
Jockey Angel Felix will serve a three-day suspension this week after causing interference in the stretch with Brat Cat in the first race Feb. 25.
* Bay Meadowss decision to cut back to four days of racing for the next two weeks paid early dividends when 68 runners were entered on Thursdays eight-race card. Only 52 runners were entered for nine races Sunday.
* Former jockey and trainer Roy Yaka, 75, died after a long illness in late February. Yaka was a perennial top 10 rider in northern California in the 60s and 70s and trained horses after his retirement.
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