10/04/2011 12:42PM

Golden Gate: Gryder savors local title


Jockey Aaron Gryder has won riding championships at Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Hollywood Park, and Arlington Park, but he enjoyed winning the summer meeting at Golden Gate Fields that concluded Sunday just as much as his other riding titles.

“I’m proud of the fact I won the title,” Gryder said. “They’re all important.

“That’s what everything in this sport is based on – numbers, whether it’s a horse’s past performance or a jockey’s winning percentage.”

Gryder had 29 winners during the 22-day meet, beating Juan Hernandez by five. Gryder won two races on Sunday, while Hernandez was shut out.

“It’s really tough here, riding against the king,” Gryder said of competing with Russell Baze, the world’s winningest rider, on a daily basis.

Gryder’s victory snapped a streak of 12 straight Golden Gate championships for Baze, who has won 40 titles at the track overall. Baze, who missed seven days of the meet, four with stakes assignments elsewhere and a three-day suspension, lost for the first time since Martin Garcia defeated him at the 2006 spring meeting.

Gryder complimented his agent, Dennis Patterson.

“He gave me some great opportunities, and we capitalized on them,” Gryder said. “We spread our business out, and I didn’t ride for Jerry Hollendorfer until the last week.

“I’m very happy with the people I’m riding for, and John Martin, in particular, gave us great support.”

Patterson took over Gryder’s book when the veteran rider came here for the winter meet last Dec. 26.

Tight finish among trainers

Steve Sherman won his second straight summer meet training title, edging Hollendorfer 18-17 after edging Billy Morey 22-21 last year.

“Any time you win a title, it’s special,” said Sherman.

Sherman led Hollendorfer 17-15 going into the final day, but Hollendorfer had 10 entries to Sherman’s five.

Hollendorfer won the third race with Worldly Lad as Sherman ran third and fourth and then won the fourth with Western Roses to tie the standings.

Sherman’s Green Cat pulled off a $24.60 upset in the eighth to win the title for his trainer.

“It was nip-and-tuck all the way. I didn’t think I was going to do it,” said Sherman. “But Green Cat really came through.”

Sherman talked of racing lucks, good draws and the fact he “got the right horses in,” but he said his crew should be credited for its hard work.

‘Front-running’ promotion

Golden Gate’s tongue-in-cheek “Front-Runner Friday” promotion in which fans confessing to being front-running San Francisco Giants’ fans were admitted free was well received.

And a number of fans brought Giants’ clothing, which earned them a pair of turf club tickets as well. The clothing was donated to the City of Berkeley’s YEAH (Youth Engagement, Advocacy, and Housing) program for homeless youth.

The track received a box of Giants’ T-shirts and sweatshirts from Jeanne Garayoa of Redding, who read about the promotion in the Sacramento Bee.

“I’ve never been to the horse races,” Garayoa said. “We’re Giants fans and had lots of Giants’ gear. As Giants’ fans, we were a little disappointed this year, but this seemed like a good way to help people.”