12/04/2012 2:13PM

Golden Gate Fields: Specht pair did him well in Debutante

Vassar Photography
Trainer Steve Specht will look for possible sprints in Southern California for Marks Mine.

Heading into the Golden Gate Debutante, trainer Steve Specht was expecting a good effort from Marks Mine and her stablemate My Lil Shamrock, even thought they would be running against undefeated Ciao Bella Luna.

Ciao Bella Luna, who would go off at 2-5 in the Debutante, had run down Marks Mine in an Oct. 25 prep race.

But Specht noted Marks Mine was making her first start in 10 weeks in that race, which came on a Thursday, the first day of the race week when speed generally doesn’t hold up as well as it does on the weekend. He noted that when the speedy Marks Mine “gets in front, she’s pretty tough.”

And Saturday, she proved too tough on the lead for her five rivals, defeating Ciao Bella Luna by 1 1/4 lengths with My Lil Shamrock third, another 3 1/4 lengths back. The winning time was 1:09.78.

Although My Lil Shamrock had always outworked Marks Mine in the morning, Specht said he was “impressed” with the efforts of both and pleased that both came out of the race well.

“I really didn’t learn a whole lot from the race, although My Lil Shamrock didn’t run as well as I thought,” said Specht.

“I wasn’t disappointed, not at all. She didn’t eat well a week before the race, and we had to pull a broken tooth four days before the race. She wasn’t quite as sharp as in her debut.”

Marks Mine was sharp. She ran matching 22.73-second opening quarters and actually went her first five furlongs faster than the speedy Cardiffbythesea in the previous race. She seemed quite relaxed down the backstretch and finished well.

“She’s pretty intense. She goes for it,” said Specht, who will look for possible sprints down south for Marks Mine, a California-bred daughter of Benchmark.

Specht is not ruling out the California Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 9, but said the filly “might not like two turns or be able to relax enough.

“We need to change those 22-and-change fractions to 23- or 24-and-change so she’ll have something left in the final quarter.”

My Lil Shamrock likely will be pointed to the Oaks.

Trainer Dennis Patterson was disappointed that Ciao Bella Luna didn’t win but was philosophical given the speed bias she was running against. He was quick to credit the winner’s effort.

Russell Baze called Ciao Bella Luna “a nice filly” and said, “She ran hard,” although she was still a bit green and didn’t respond to “being encouraged by the whip.”

Baffert star in Gold Rush

The Bob Baffert-trained Carving, who has won the Afflerbaugh and Real Quiet and finished fourth in the Grade 1 FrontRunner since winning his debut in an $80,000 claimer, is scheduled to run in Saturday’s $75,000 Gold Rush at one mile.

Carving just defeated Fury Kapcori in the Real Quiet and will be ridden by Baze, who should reach 12,000 career victories next year.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer apparently changed his mind about running Fury Kapcori, winner of the one-mile Charlie Palmer at Fresno, in the Gold Rush but is still considering Zeewat, who won the Cavonnier at Santa Rosa and was third in the Golden Nugget, a six-furlong prep for the Gold Rush on Nov. 10.

Trainer Billy Morey will enter My Best Bet, who won a one-mile prep here on Nov. 9. The Doug O’Neill-trained Royal Barrister, who won his debut in a turf sprint at Hollywood Park on Nov. 10, is also expected.

Baze expected to ride Fury Kapcori but quickly accepted the offer to ride Carving.

“I’ll watch videos of his races to get to know him,” Baze said.

Baze has another top 2-year-old prospect, Gratian, who won his debut at 3-5 Saturday.

A son of Candy Ride, Gratian was heavily favored on the basis of three six-furlong bullet works to wind up preparations for his debut. He stalked pacesetter Disruption and unleashed a strong kick the final 100 yards to win by a half-length in 1:10.73.

Trainer Keith Nations breathed a sigh of relief after the race and said he really felt pressure with Theresa and Edward DeNike’s $105,000 purchase. The colt earned a 63 Beyer Speed Figure (Marks Mine had a 77), but he did rally nicely against the speed bias and is more of a route prospect than a sprinter.

“I thought he’d be a pretty nice colt all along,” said Baze. “He was a little green, but when I asked him, he ran them down.”

Nations will think about running the colt in the Jan. 12 California Derby at 1 1/16 miles.

Frey’s meet over

Kyle Frey’s Golden Gate Fields season will be ending early after he received a three-day suspension last Friday and a five-day suspension Saturday.

Frey was suspended Dec. 7-9 for “failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch and causing interference” aboard Meant To Be Mine who finished sixth in Thursday’s seventh race.

He then was tagged for five days, Dec. 14-16 to conclude the current meet and Dec. 26 and 28 for the start of the winter/spring meet for “altering course without sufficient clearance around the far turn and causing interference” aboard winner North Star Fame in Friday’s fifth race.

Neither horse was disqualified.

** Fans and horsemen can donate unwrapped toys for distribution at the Dec. 14 Grooms’ Christmas Party at bins located throughout the track.