11/29/2010 1:49PM

Bonuses enhance two Golden Gate stakes

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Cigar Man, Juan Hernandez up, wins the All American.

ALBANY, Calif. – The Golden Gate Fields winter/spring stakes schedule has 10 scheduled stakes races highlighted by the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile and Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.

Five of the stakes will be for 3-year-olds, starting on New Year’s Day with the $100,000 California Oaks for fillies. The $100,000 California Derby is Jan. 15, with the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 12.

The purse for the California Oaks was increased by $25,000 from last year, while the El Camino’s purse was boosted by $50,000. The two races are qualifying races for the $2.2 million Black-Eyed Susan bonus and $5.5 million Preakness bonus offered by the MI Developments, operator of both Golden Gate and Pimlico, site of the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness.

Later in the meet, 3-year-old fillies will compete in the $75,000 Golden Poppy at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on April 16. On May 14, the $75,000 Alcatraz, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, will be contested for 3-year-olds.

The San Francisco Mile, Northern California’s only Grade 2 race, will be held on April 30 on the Lakeside Turf Course. The race has a $150,000 guaranteed purse.

The $100,000 Grade 3 Berkeley for older runners will be held on May 30 at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The opening-day $50,000-added Silveyville for 3-year-old-and-up California-breds on Dec. 26 will be offered at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Cal-bred fillies and mares will run in the $50,000-added Work the Crowd at one mile on the turf on April 23.

The Berkeley is the only open stakes for older runners during the meet. There are no open stakes for older fillies and mares nor are there any sprint stakes.

All American was a multiple milestone

Friday’s Grade 3 All American provided horse (Cigar Man), trainer (Vladimir Cerin) and jockey (Juan Hernandez) with milestone victories.

The graded victory was Cigar Man’s first stakes victory and Cerin’s 1,000th victory as a trainer.

It also was the first U.S. stakes victory for the 18-year-old Hernandez, who got his start at the track in Mexico City.

Ramon Silva, Hernandez’s agent, said trainer Armando Lage tipped him about Cigar Man, and he got his young star the mount.

Hernandez sat chilly and waited until the stretch to let the 5-year-old gelding roll. He wheeled him out into the clear and came flying to nip Hot Chaco at the wire after Hot Chaco had passed pacesetting favorite Our Nautique in the final 16th of the 1 1/8-mile race.

“The trainer wanted me to take him back seven or eight lengths off the

lead,” Hernandez said after the race. “The horse wanted to run right from the gate, but I took a hold and did the best I could. I knew I had a lot of horse, and when I hit him left-handed he really responded.”

Hernandez tied for second in the jockey standings at Santa Rosa with Michael Martinez and Leslie Mawing with 15 wins. He was third in the standings at the Golden Gate summer meet with 28 victories, one behind Chad Schvaneveldt.

Hernandez, who has won 125 races since arriving at Golden Gate Fields in January, is third in the current standings with 23 winners behind perennial leader Russell Baze and Mawing.

“My family works at the racetrack in Mexico City and let me know about him,” said Silva. “He rode a lot of winners for my uncle.”

Silva believes that Hernandez will make an impact down south, much like Joel Rosario and Martin Garcia, when he gets more seasoning.

“He doesn’t play around like most 18-year-olds,” said Silva. “He talks to the other jockeys all the time. He asks them about a lot of things.”

He also understands the importance of communication and has been taking evening classes to improve his English.

Another thing that Hernandez has going for him is his personality. It has helped him get chances with trainers such as leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and Hernandez has made those chances pay off.

Hot Chaco a solid second

Trainer Chuck Jenda was pleased with Hot Chaco’s runner-up effort in the All American in the first stakes start for Chaco, a 4-year-old gelding sired by Unusual Heat.

“A lot of people see Unusual Heat and think he can only run on the turf,” said Jenda of Hot Chaco, a Frank and Jeff Edmunds homebred who has 4 wins and 2 seconds in 6 lifetime starts on grass. “He handles both surfaces.”

Jenda felt it was time for Hot Chaco to try stakes company, even though the All American was a graded race.

“We nominated him and thought it was a realistic spot going in,” said Jenda. “If it was too tough, we looked for something else. There were some tough, solid horses in there, but we thought he fit.”

Since running ninth in his debut last year, Hot Chaco has hit the board in 10 straight starts.

Calling Hot Chaco a “nice horse,” Jenda said that he may “ultimately have to go down south.”

A California-bred, Hot Chaco could run in the Silveyville on Dec. 26 and might be considered for the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile on April 30. Both races are scheduled for turf. The Grade 3 Berkeley on the main track is May 30.

But chances for runners such as Hot Chaco are few and far between.

“I wish we had a local stakes program, but the only horses you can have here are $8,000 to $25,000 claimers.”

Corte Madera gets 13 nominations

Thirteen 2-year-old fillies were nominated to Saturday’s $75,000 Corte Madera at one mile. Fans attending that day will receive a free fleece jacket, while the supply last.

Early indications list Entrustment, Lilacs and Lace, Notorious Nikki and Seismic Speed as definite. Cathy’s Crunches, winner of the Golden Gate Debutante and the Golden Nugget against colts, is nominated but will probably pass.

Cliff Delima’s Perfect Curls, a winner of two stakes on the fair circuit, is not nominated but is back at the track jogging after cracking a shin when she went to Del Mar and ran in fifth in the Generous Portion on Sept. 1.