11/27/2012 2:27PM

Golden Gate: Hudson Landing, Control Seeker will meet again

Vassar Photography
Hudson Landing and Control Seeker battle it out near the rail in the Grade 3 All American on Friday. Hudson Landing, just outside his rival, got the nod, with the gray Fast Track flashing by on the outside for third.

A dramatic finish could mark the start of an interesting rivalry for Northern California racing fans.

Hudson Landing pulled off a last-stride victory over Control Seeker in the Grade 3, $100,000 All American Friday at Golden Gate Fields – his second Grade 3 victory of the year following the San Francisco Mile on turf in April.

The news from both barns after the race gives fans something to look forward to: Both runners will be pointed to next spring’s San Francisco Mile.

Hudson Landing wasn’t supposed to run in the All American. He came out of his ninth-place finish in the Aug. 19 Longacres Mile body sore, according to trainer Blaine Wright, who planned to give him an extended rest. But the 5-year-old Maria’s Mon gelding bounced back so quickly that a surprised Wright began thinking about the All American, which was run at 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta main track.

He was able to run Hudson Landing in an Oct. 28 prep on turf, and although Hudson Landing finished third, the race was a key to his All American victory because it allowed him to get fit for the All American.

“Hudson Landing is not the greatest work horse, but he shows up on race day,” said Wright. “It was essential to get a prep race.”

A repeat in the San Francisco Mile would mean a lot to owner Jared Chappell, who claimed Hudson Landing for $50,000 in February and promptly won an optional claiming race with him. Chappell immediately reserved a table for himself and his family in the turf club for the San Francisco Mile.

“The San Francisco Mile was like our Kentucky Derby,” said Chappell.

Though he wasn’t able to claim him until last February, Hudson Landing had been on Chappell’s radar for more than two years. He tried to purchase him privately before Hudson Landing won the 2010 Alcatraz at Golden Gate Fields.

Chappell liked Hudson Landing because he was “real versatile.”

“He’s a lean, athletic horse,” Chappell said.

Chappell was in the home security business until his company was purchased. Now, the Utah resident has several runners as well as 10 mares for his farms in Idaho and Utah.

“I grew up dreaming of this,” he said.

As for Control Seeker, he will be given a month at owner Edward and Theresa DeNike’s farm in Washington, with the San Francisco Mile his spring goal, said trainer Keith Nations.

“He’s happy and doing well,” said Nations. “He looks physically his best ever. It’s a good time to give him a break.”

Nations said he felt great until the final stride of the All American.

“As we were watching the race unfold, we couldn’t be more pleased,” he said.

But jockey Francisco Duran lost his whip at the eighth pole, and he and Control Seeker were nipped at the wire.

“It was a tough, tough loss,” Nations said. “He ran a winning race. If the jockey doesn’t drop his whip, who knows what would have happened.”

Nations said he doesn’t blame Duran for the loss.

“You can’t feel any worse than he already does,” Nations said. “A lot of Hall of Fame riders had dropped whips at key moments. As long as he was trying and giving his all, that’s all you can ask.”

Even with the All American loss, Nations has plenty to look forward to.

Slim Pickins, who was scratched from the All American, won an allowance race Saturday. And as Control Seeker departs for a month of R&R, the stakes winner Bailouttheminister and allowance horse Hexbreaker are returning to his barn at Golden Gate Fields.