11/06/2012 10:09AM

Golden Gate: Ciao Bella Luna a juvenile filly to watch


Is there a star in the making at Golden Gate Fields?

After her victory in an allowance race Oct. 25, Ciao Bella Luna is undefeated after two starts, and her rider Eric Camacho says, “She has what you want in a 2-year-old.”
Ciao Bella Luna is a true family affair filly. She’s homebred for Carol and Dennis Yokum (Car-Den Racing Stable) who is also owned by trainer Dennis Patterson’s wife, Theresa. Patterson’s daughter-in-law Christy Wiede is the filly’s exercise rider and is aboard her every day. Patterson’s son, also named Dennis, is Camacho’s agent.

Patterson has always liked the Tribal Rule filly. Her dam, Shadow of the Moon, has seen all three of her foals score multiple wins.

“I liked how she breezed when we got her,” he said. “She trained like a racehorse, but you have to go out and do it. She’s run to expectations.”

Ciao Bella Luna won her debut by 2 1/4 lengths and in her second start beat stakes-placed Marks Mine by two lengths while earning an 84 Beyer in a six-furlong allowance sprint. The field also included stakes-placed Fightin Mean Mad.

The filly has shown heart, breaking slowly and then running into trouble in her debut. Camacho was patient with her and urged her through a narrow opening to set up her winning run.

“She got a lot of experience out of that race,” said Patterson.

“She’s still green and doesn’t know what she’s doing,” said Camacho, “but she has raw talent.”

Because of Golden Gate’s stakes schedule for 2- and 3-year-old runners, Patterson said Ciao Bella Luna won’t have to travel anywhere for a while.

He believes Ciao Bella Luna, whose grandsires are Storm Can and Conquistador Cielo, should handle two turns with alacrity.

“I don’t see anything discouraging me,” he said.

Camacho is a new face in Northern California, having arrived here from Maryland when the Golden Gate Fields mini summer meet was just getting started. The 28-year-old rider has ridden 719 winners from 4409 mounts since beginning his career on April 4, 2004, when he won two races on his first day as a rider.

Camacho, whose career highlight was winning the 2005 Laurel riding title over his idol Ramon Dominguez, said he was considering moving from Maryland because of its low number of race dates when Kyle Kaenel suggested he look at Northern California and helped hook him up with Patterson (his agent).

Camacho came out and worked horses for four days before the Golden Gate summer meeting started and knew he’d made the right decision. Patterson introduced him to a number of trainers, including Keith Nations, who Camacho said has been a big supporter.

Camacho has won at a 15 percent clip since arriving here with 13 wins at Golden Gate, Stockton and Fresno from 85 mounts. He hopes his success with Ciao Bella Luna will help him attract more business.

Camacho is very patient and quiet on a horse. He studies and says he is adapting to a somewhat more aggressive approach by West Coast riders.

“In the East, the race is from the quarter pole. In the West, it’s from the gate,” he said. “In the first 70 yards, it’s important to get position. From that point on, it’s more a jockey’s race, and patience does pay off.”

Positive Response eyes All American

Trainer Billy Morey wasn’t originally considering an Oct. 28 turf allowance feature as a prep race for the Nov. 23 Grade 3 All American on the main track for Positive Response, but after the 4-year-old gelding defeated stablemate Duke of Doom, Morey revised his thinking.

“The horse was pretty tired after his races at Del Mar,” said Morey. “We were thinking of the Bull Dog at Fresno, but he didn’t seem quite ready. We ran him here but weren’t really thinking ahead. Now, I think we’ll be looking at the All American.

“This was his first win on the turf so it definitely opened up some doors for turf use.”

Duke of Doom’s runner-up effort was his seventh on-the-board finish from 10 starts this year.

“He’s a nice horse, very consistent. He picks up a check for his owners just about every time,” said Morey.

Favored Hudson Landing ran third and is also likely to be pointed to the All American. Though he prefers turf, he did run second in the Grade 3 Berkeley on the main track here last May and won the Mt. Rainier on dirt at Emerald this summer.

Cardiffbythesea, who won his first three starts sprinting before losing to his stakes-winning stablemate Shudacudawudya, set a pressured pace before tiring badly in his first try on turf and around two turns.

Fresno business declines

The 2012 Fresno meet showed a big decrease in handle after a banner 2011.

Both meets ran nine days, and the ontrack live handle this year decreased 7 percent, with $2,847,754 wagered compared with $3,054,720 last year.

The all-source handle decreased 23 percent with a 28 percent decrease in out-of-state wagering the primary reason for the decrease. The 2012 all-sources live-handle total was $10,877,768 compared with $14,161,168 last year.