04/25/2013 2:34PM

Golden Gate Fields: Charlemagne Wood adds blinkers for San Francisco Mile

Vassar Photography
Hudson Landing (5) will attempt to win the San Francisco Mile for the second time.

Neither trainer Neil Drysdale nor jockey Abel Cedillo can explain it.

Charlemagne Wood was cruising comfortably on the lead in a one-mile turf race at Golden Gate Fields on April 6. He turned into the lane with an open lead when he suddenly ducked in toward the rail. Only a good job by Cedillo pulled the 5-year-old Charlemagne Wood up quickly enough to keep him from crashing through the rail.

Charlemagne Wood returns to run in the Grade 3, $100,000 San Francisco Mile on Saturday.

“I don’t know what happened or how I stopped him,” Cedillo said. “I told my agent and the trainer, too, that he would have won. I had plenty of horse left.”

Drysdale, a Hall of Fame trainer, has watched and re-watched replays of the race and still cannot explain what happened at a spot on Golden Gate’s turf course where other horses also have ducked in and gone through the rail.

[SAN FRANCISCO MILE: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

“We won’t do anything different, except he’ll run with some blinkers,” Drysdale said.

The April 6 prep race was intended to get runners ready for Saturday’s San Francisco Mile. Control Seeker, who won the prep, and defending San Francisco Mile champion Hudson Landing, who finished third, are two of Charlemagne Wood’s nine rivals in the race.

Other contenders include Grand Berry, winner of Group 1 and a Group 2 stakes in his native Argentina, and turf stakes winners Tribal Tribute, Barney Rebel, Summer Hit, and Gallant Son. Coach Bob and Tigah, third in the Thunder Run on the Santa Anita turf course April 6, round out the field.

Blinkers won’t be the only change for Charlemagne Wood, who will be making his stakes debut. He drew the rail as he set a leisurely pace in the April 6 prep. On Saturday, he draws the outside 10 post.

With Coach Bob, who just earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in a March 31 sprint, in the field, Charlemagne Wood is unlikely to set the pace. Coach Bob has led through the opening half-mile in all five of his sprints this year.

“I think he can sit back second or third and not mind,” said Cedillo, who liked the way his mount relaxed for him April 6.

“He’s come from off the pace before,” said Drysdale, who gave the Irish-bred Charlemagne Wood his first U.S. start in a 6 1/2-furlong turf race at Santa Anita on March 28 after more than one year on the sidelines.

Drysdale, who has given Charlemagne Wood two works since his April 6 race, is confident coming into the race.

“I like the way he’s trained,” he said.