11/13/2011 8:08AM

Golden Gate Fields: Passing Game scores Golden Nugget surprise

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Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Passing Game, the longest shot on the board under Kevin Krigger, pays $80.60 for winning the Golden Nugget.

Passing Game, making his first start since winning his debut May 15 at Hollywood Park, circled the field five wide and rallied through the stretch to edge Chips All In by a neck to win the $62,540 Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Passing Game ($80.60), one of six undefeated runners in the field of nine 2-year-olds, was the longest price in the field. He sat well off Johnny Be Mine's pressured pace before moving up while wide on the turn. Passing Game, trained by Gary Sherlock, remained outside down the lane as he overhauled Chips All In, who had won all three career starts, including the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe in his last start.

"The trainer told me the horse was ready," said winning jockey Kevin Krigger, who won last week's Golden Gate Debutante with Lady of Fifty.

Krigger explained that his strategy was to target Chips All In, ridden by Aaron Gryder.

"I let him relax early and then decided I was just going to follow Aaron because he looked like he had a lot of horse,” Krigger said. “I had to go five or six wide, but I kept him in the clear."

Passing Game ducked in a bit under a right-handed whip, but Krigger was confident when the Game Plan colt straightened out.

"I knew we were going to get there because he was running so good down the stretch," said Krigger.

Passing Game was clocked in 1:10.09 in the six-furlong race.

Marino Marini closed well for third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Chips All In and one length in front of that one's stablemate, Coach Sickie, the 7-5 favorite.

Passing Game, a Carol and Charles Bernhardt, Stan Chambers, and William McNeil Cal-bred homebred, earned $39,700 to lift his lifetime earnings to $69,700.