11/22/2011 12:37PM

Golden Gate Fields: Bold Chieftain still going strong for All American

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Benoit & Associates
Bold Chieftain runs in the Grade 3 All American on Friday, then might have one more start before calling it a career.

In an era when many top runners are retired after their 3-year-old years, Bold Chieftain is still racing at the stakes level as an 8-year-old, and a victory in Friday’s Grade 3 All American at Golden Gate Fields would put a cap on a remarkable career.

The $100,000 All American will either be Bold Chieftain’s penultimate or final start before he begins his stud career at Ellen Jackson’s Victory Rose Thoroughbreds in 2012.

Bold Chieftain has raced and won every year from the age of 2 through 8. He has made 45 starts, and Friday’s appearance will be his 37th in stakes competition. He has 14 stakes victories, including the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile.

Bold Chieftain made seven starts this year, five in stakes. And even in the two allowance races he competed in this year, it took multiple stakes winners Goggles McCoy and Our Nautique to beat him.

He is the only two-time winner of the California Cup Classic, on the main track at Santa Anita, and only two-time winner of the California Dreamin’, on the turf at Del Mar. A son of Chief Seattle, Bold Chieftain has won five times on dirt and his only two starts on wet tracks. He has five victories on synthetic surfaces and six on grass, and has earned $1,653,171 for his owners throughout his career, trainer Bill Morey Jr., the late Ernest Langbein, Ken Robinson and Dwaine Hall.

His biggest and most sensational victory came in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita in 2010, when he rallied between horses in the stretch, steadied, clipped heels and still won.

“That Sunshine Millions race, coming through the field like that showed a lot of class,” said jockey Russell Baze, who has 16 wins, 10 seconds and 2 thirds in 35 rides aboard Bold Chieftain. “He’s not the biggest horse, but he was not going to get beat that day.”

“He went from no chance to winner,” said Morey, also the horse’s breeder. “We were coming out with nothing, and all of a sudden we were winners of a half-million dollar race.”

Bold Chieftain never had the star power of some of his contemporaries, but that doesn’t mean the fans don’t love him.

Said Morey: “They really root for him, although usually when they’re thundering down the stretch, I can’t tell if the crowd’s yelling – I’m yelling so loud myself.”

Bold Chieftain may not win any beauty contests, but Morey says he’s an amazing physical specimen.

“He may not be the best horse, but he’s so healthy it’s unbelievable,” said Morey. “The vets say he’s the healthiest horse they’ve ever seen. He’s one of the soundest horses I’ve had. He holds his edge and has always run with the toughest horses.”

Bold Chieftain has had only one minor problem in his racing career, surgery for a small chip in his knee early in his 3-year-old season.

“We X-rayed a lump on his shin, and the chip was found accidentally,” Morey said. “The vet spotted it and said we might as well take it out because it could cause him a problem someday. It was probably something that happened even before he got to the track.”

Baze said he appreciates Bold Chieftain’s professionalism.

“He’s near the top of the horses I’ve ridden,” said Baze. “He’s still such a productive horse after so long.

“There’s nothing really tricky about him. In his younger days, he had some quirks. In fact, last year he gave me a little flashback turning into the lane when he ducked out, but as long as they’ve led him over to the track, he’s given his best.”

Bold Chieftain resides two stalls down from Morey’s door, and the trainer said he is going to miss having the old boy around.

“It’s going to be tough when that stall is empty,” said Morey. “Whoever goes in there will have some pretty big shoes to fill.

“Bold Chieftain’s one in a gazillion.”

Shudcudawudya looks sharp

Shudcudawudya rebounded from his second-place finish in the Oakland Stakes with a victory in a six-furlong allowance race Saturday. Trainer Lloyd Mason said he plans to run him in one more allowance before the Golden Gate fall meet ends on Dec. 19.

A 4-year-old gelding, Shudcudawudya scored a four-length victory over Hexbreaker in 1:08.75 on Saturday while earning a 100 Beyer.

◗ Thursday’s eight-race Thanksgiving Day card begins at 11:15 a.m. with the regular 12:45 p.m. post time the remainder of the week.