01/31/2012 10:50AM

Golden Gate Fields: Shudacudawudya ties things up with Sourdough Sam

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
The gray Shudacudawudya (above) and Sourdough Sam have met four times.

Shudacudawudya evened his four-race rivalry with Sourdough Sam in Saturday’s Albany Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. The two split decisions at age 2 and Sourdough Sam beat Shudacudawudya in the Oakland Stakes last fall to take a 2-1 lead in their series.

While the rivalry has been exciting to watch, Shudacudawudya lost a year of racing as a direct result of their second meeting. Shudacudawudya, now 5, scored his first victory over Sourdough Sam in the Golden Nugget here in November of 2009. While Shudacudawudya went on to run third in the Stuka that December and fourth in the California Derby in January 2010, trainer Lloyd Mason traces an injury to Shudacudawudya back to the Golden Nugget.

“He clipped heels and stumbled very badly on the turn,” Mason said. “We didn’t notice anything until two races later, but he had a condylar fracture in his left front leg.”

Mason said the injury was a hairline fracture, and several screws were inserted during an operation. Shudacudawudya also had some bone chips removed from his right front ankle.

Shudacudawudya didn’t race again for more than a year. He won his return in a Golden Gate allowance race in January 2011 and has since won three more times – two allowance races and the Albany.

“I think he’s Superman for what he’s been through to come back like this and at this level,” said Shudacudawudya’s owner-breeder and the trainer’s son, Brett Mason. “Most horses don’t come back at all, and, if they do, they don’t have any confidence.”

Francisco Duran, who has ridden Shudacudawudya in all 13 of his starts, has plenty of confidence in the horse.

“He’s a true racehorse,” said Duran. “He gives me all the confidence in the world because I know he’s going to give me 100 percent.”

Lloyd Mason said that he and his son would weigh the possibility of trying Shudacudawudya in a turf sprint. Shudacudawudya has never raced on anything but the Golden Gate Tapeta.

Sourdough Sam, also 5, cut into a 4 1/2-length deficit to Shudacudawudya in the lane and finished fourth, losing by 1 1/2 lengths. Trainer Dean Pederson noted that as a late-runner, Sourdough Sam needs a contested pace, and he didn’t get that in the Albany.

It was the first time that Sourdough Sam and Shudacudwudya hadn’t finished one-two in their meetings, and Pederson is looking forward to a fifth meeting with Shudacudawudya.

“There’ll be another day,” he said.

Lloyd Mason’s second runner in the race, Soldier Point, ran last in the field of six. Mason said he would give the 4-year-old colt a 30-day break before starting to work him again.

“I really like the horse and think he’ll develop into a nice horse,” he said.