09/11/2013 2:13PM

Golden Gate Fields notes: Cost of Freedom reaches million-dollar mark in style

Barbara D. Livingston
Cost of Freedom, now 10, won the Grade 1 Ancient Title in 2008.

Trainer Genaro Vallejo may have gone against the grain when he put down $12,500 to claim the 10-year-old Cost of Freedom at Golden Gate Fields on April 6 for Battle Born Racing and Nick Ferrara.

The Cee’s Tizzy gelding won his second straight race that day but went to the sidelines for 11 weeks before a last-place finish for $16,000 at Pleasanton on June 29. That was followed by a fifth-place finish as the even-money favorite under Russell Baze in an $8,000 turf sprint at Santa Rosa.

Cost of Freedom was less than $800 away from becoming a million-dollar earner before those two races and was $291 away when he took on four rivals in a $10,000 claimer at Golden Gate Fields on Friday.

If he could beat one horse, he would become a millionaire, but he did better than that. He won the race and got to pose in the winner’s circle as a millionaire.

“That was awesome,” said Vallejo about reaching the milestone with a victory.

Cost of Freedom won the Grade 1 Ancient Title in 2008, and after his two lackluster tries, some people wondered if maybe he should be retired. But Vallejo figured Cost of Freedom needed a shot on Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface to regain his form.

“He’s a synthetic horse,” Vallejo said. “In that turf race, he got hit by a rock early, and Russell just kept him safe after that.”

Cost of Freedom looked like a different horse Friday.

“He was back home,” Vallejo said. “He showed up looking like his old self. It feels good to have him back.”

Vallejo will take his time and will likely skip Stockton and Fresno while looking for Cost of Freedom’s next race. The $7,800 Cost of Freedom won Friday boosted his career earnings to $1,007,509.

Marks Mine impresses

Marks Mine dominated a strong sprint field of fillies and mares, scoring a three-length victory Saturday in a six-furlong allowance race that was a prep race for the $50,000-added Harvest Stakes at Stockton on Sept. 28. The race was the first for Marks Mine since she won the California State Fair Sprint in Sacramento on July 20.

“That’s the plan,” said Marks Mine’s trainer, Steve Specht. “This race wasn’t really a prep for her. She hadn’t run since Sacramento and needed a race.”

Specht has been working on trying to get the 3-year-old Benchmark filly to relax more early, but Saturday’s wire-to-wire victory under Frank Alvarado went according to plan.

“She ran good,” Specht said. “She’s a nice filly. I didn’t see much speed in the race, so I told Frank to go wire to wire, and she blew out of there.”

Life Is a Joy makes it two straight

Jerry and Janet Hollendorfer and their top client George Todaro saw their 2-year-old homebred Life Is a Joy improve to 2 for 2 in a six-furlong allowance Sunday at Golden Gate that could lead him to the $50,000-added Charlie Palmer Futurity at one mile on dirt at Fresno on Oct. 5.

The son of Globalize out of Tadita is a full brother of Life Is a Rock, who is stakes placed on the turf. Based on what his siblings have done, Life Is a Joy should enjoy the turf when he gets a chance.

Juveniles try something new

Friday’s card includes a pair of interesting 2-year-old maiden races. Both races are one mile on the turf. Seven males run in the second race. Nine females run in the sixth. None of the runners has ever gone around two turns or run on turf.

Among those in the sixth race is Miss Lafayette, from Craig Dollase’s Southern California barn. She had a third and a fourth at Del Mar in her first two starts and will be accompanied here by regular rider Corey Nakatani.

Riley to attend Kentucky Book Fair

helley Riley, who bought and trained 1992 Kentucky Derby runner-up Casual Lies, is Kentucky bound again.
She was invited to appear at the Kentucky Book Fair on Nov. 16 in Frankfort to talk about her book “Casual Lies – A Triple Crown Adventure.”

“I’m going to go back a week early to go to the sales at Keeneland,” she said. “I really miss the smells and sights of a sale, but I’m going to make sure somebody manacles me so that I can’t raise my hands above my waist in case I fall in love again.”

◗ Reserved seats are still available for Saturday’s Racing and Breeding Genetic Marker Seminar at 9:30 a.m. in the Bay View Lounge at Golden Gate Fields. Steve Tammariello is the featured speaker. Reservations can be made by emailing info@norcalequine.org.