08/22/2011 7:51AM

Ferndale: Steel Blue shows heart in C.J. Hindley Marathon victory

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Steel Blue ($5.60) was forced to duel for the lead the entire four laps of the 1 5/8 miles of the $15,990 C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon, and re-rallied after being passed in the stretch by Baron’s Gold to claim victory in the 58th running of the race Sunday on the closing of the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale.

Steel Blue and Baron’s Gold both had been claimed to run in the Marathon and gave the fans a memorable exhibition. Steel Blue set the pace but was challenged early by Old Standard, with the two going head-and-head for a mile. Old Standard had his head in front after a mile in 1:42.73 on the half-mile track, but the pace took a toll on him.

Steel Blue began to ease away from the tiring Old Standard, but just as he seemed set to get a breather, Baron’s Gold ranged up beside Steel Blue and put his head in front in the lane. Steel Blue had enough left to pull clear of Baron’s Gold late, winning the race by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:55.40.

“That was as game an effort by a horse I have ever ridden. He refused to be beaten,” said winning jockey Barrington Harvey, who also won the 2010 edition of the race with Come Back Native.

It was the first Marathon victory for owner Allen Aldrich and trainer Phil Oviedo. Blue Steel, a 5-year-old Touch Gold gelding, earned $9,000 for his fourth victory in 23 starts. He has career earnings of $40,709.