08/09/2009 11:00PM

Gilchrist's pair comes back strong


Trainer Greg Gilchrist had some good news waiting for him when he returned from Europe on Sunday: Two of his horses, Wild Promises and Victorina, had run one-two in Saturday's $50,000 Luther Burbank at Santa Rosa.

Both runners were coming off long layoffs. Wild Promises had run 10th in the Grade 3 Honey Fox at Gulfstream on March 7 and was coughing badly after the race. Victorina, who had gone to Florida with her stablemate, had broken a splint bone.

"I'm proud of my horses, proud of my help, and proud of my jockeys," he said, pointing particularly to assistant Erin Anderson and to William Antongeorgi, who coaxed Victorina to second place.

As soon as he returned from Florida after the lost weekend in March, Gilchrist decided to give Wild Promises time off and set his sights on the Luther Burbank for her.

Wild Promises may not even know she was in a race Saturday. She sat second behind the maiden Rhythm in My Life, who opened an eight-length lead down the backstretch of the 1 1/16-mile turf race and stopped quickly at the quarter pole. Wild Promises was eight in front at the eighth pole and eight in front at the wire.

Antongeorgi followed Gilchrist's instructions to the letter aboard Victorina - "Get as much out of her as you can, but don't abuse her."

Gilchrist said that if both his runners snap back from the Burbank they would run the closing week at Del Mar, Victorina in the one-mile Adoration and Wild Promises in the 1 1/16-mile Palomar on the turf.

12 fillies nominated for Debutante

The only stakes at the Golden Gate fair meet is the $50,000 CARF Debutante for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday.

A dozen fillies, including runners from the barns of Bob Baffert and former Northern California trainer Brian Koriner, were nominated for the six-furlong race. Izzy Rules, who won the Juan Gonzalez at Pleasanton, was one of three fillies nominated by trainer Jeff Bonde. Got an Itch, second in the Juan Gonzalez, and La Nez and Unbridled Meeting, second and third in the $100,000 CTBA Stakes at Del Mar, also were nominated.

The Northern California stakes program for juveniles picks up at the second Golden Gate fair meeting, which begins Sept. 9. The $50,000 Bart Heller for 2-year-olds will be run Sept. 12, and the $50,000 Indyanne for 2-year-old fillies is set for Sept. 26. Both races are at a mile on turf.

"We've got to stretch the 2-year-olds out," fairs racing secretary Tom Doutrich said.

Bar JF Hot Ticket's streak at 18

In the world of mule racing, one name stands alone - Black Ruby. Known as the Secretariat of mules, she brought respect and interest to mule racing with her domination earlier this decade. And she brought fans to the track.

Sarah Nelson was Black Ruby's successor, but she has now been supplanted by Bar JF Hot Ticket, who won her 18th straight race with a one-length victory over Sarah Nelson at Santa Rosa on Sunday. Bar JF Hot Ticket broke Sarah Nelson's track record for 440 yards with a 24.567 clocking.

She's not in Black Ruby's class yet, but Bar JF Hot Ticket is beginning to create a similar buzz on the days she races.

Bar JF Hot Ticket has won 30 of 36 races and finished lower than third only once. Sarah Nelson, who has won 52 races in 86 starts, beat Bar JF Hot Ticket in their first meeting on Aug. 5, 2007. Bar JF Hot Ticket has not lost since and has won 25 of her past 26 starts.

"She has great desire to win," said trainer Ray Thomas, who noted that Bar JF Hot Ticket broke flat-footed Sunday and found herself two or three lengths behind Sarah Nelson early.

One of Black Ruby's attributes was that, unlike many mules, she would stride out like a horse. Thomas says Bar JF Hot Ticket is similar.

"I train her like a horse," he said. "She'll run off if you're not careful. I worked her at Stockton, and she worked three furlongs in 38 flat. She beat a pretty nice Arabian and handled her with ease."

Bar JF Hot Ticket, 6, is just entering her prime.

"She's young and has a lot of future ahead of her," Thomas said.

Thomas hopes to run her twice at Ferndale, then at the State Fair, Pomona, and Fresno.