01/02/2009 12:00AM

Gamez adamant about keeping bargain buy All Saint

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Barely a week had gone by after All Saint's win in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 when the race photos were hanging on the walls of owner Eddie Gamez's home in Pomona, Calif.

Gamez could not wait to commemorate the victory. He had paid a grand total of $2,700 for All Saint at the 2007 Barretts October mixed sale and had watched the colt produce his biggest moment as an owner.

"We've never had anything that good," he said. "We've had some regular horses. When we started to break him, we knew he was an awesome horse."

All Saint gave Gamez and trainer Triphon Dahl their first stakes win in the Champion Stakes, for California-breds. The colt will appear in a graded stakes at Santa Anita in coming weeks - the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes over a mile for 3-year-olds on Jan. 17, or the $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 7.

While Gamez, 31, and Dahl, 44, are virtually unknown in Southern California racing circles, Gamez said his colt has been the source of attention from other horsemen in the last year. He said he turned down offers of $100,000 before All Saint's debut and $300,000 in the fall.

"When he first started working we got offers like $100,000," Gamez said. "When we didn't sell people said, 'You guys are crazy.' We knew he was special.

"After he ran on the turf at Hollywood Park, I got another call offering $300,000. We turned that down. We've never had anything like that and we didn't want to give him away."

Gamez says All Saint has always been a sound horse.

"He's not a big, heavy horse and that's probably why we're having good luck with him," he said.

Gamez has been around the racetrack since he was a child, but mostly behind the scenes. His father, Pat, is a blacksmith at Santa Anita. Eddie Gamez has the same job, working at farms in Southern California. Gamez said he is not licensed to shoe horses at California tracks, but may seek accreditation some day.

Eddie Gamez is a third-generation blacksmith. His late grandfather was a blacksmith at Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico.

Gamez bought All Saint and his dam, Santa Patricia, on the same day at Barretts in October 2007. He paid just $1,000 for Santa Patricia, an 8-year-old mare by Free House.

Santa Patricia made one start, finishing sixth in a maiden race at Santa Anita in January 2005. She was bred to Skimming that year, a mating that produced All Saint. Santa Patricia's dam, Sixy Saint, was a minor stakes winner who won 5 of 12 starts and $239,913.

Bred by John and Cheryl Toffan, All Saint has won 2 of 7 starts and $122,400.

Santa Patricia will not have a 2009 foal, and will be bred this year, Gamez said.

"We've got her in Pomona, at a friend's house," he said. "We're thinking of breeding back this year."

All Saint needed four races to beat maidens, finally doing so in a one-mile race for California-breds at Santa Anita on Oct. 17. He followed that with a fifth in an optional claimer on turf at Hollywood on Nov. 6 and a second in an allowance race for statebreds there on Nov. 23.

Despite his modest purchase price, All Saint has never run for a claiming tag. The distances of the upcoming stakes, and the presence of more established 3-year-olds, does not concern Gamez.

"He won going a mile and won pretty easily when he broke his maiden," he said. "I think he can go two turns."