Updated on 09/16/2011 7:51AM

Golden Gate: La Martina responds


ALBANY, Calif. - The best thing that happened to La Martina during her stretch rally to win the $55,700 California Oaks* at Golden Gate Fields was when jockey Russell Baze hit her in the nose with his whip.

"I think when he hit my filly she got mad," winning jockey Frank Alvarado said after edging Baze and Redmond by a head in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Winning time over the yielding course was 1:47.16.

Baze put Redmond on the lead but was always under some pressure.

"She didn't relax as much as I wanted her to, but she relaxed pretty well," Baze said. "I thought I'd hold the winner off till the last three or four jumps."

Baze said he knew his whip had made contact with the winner.

"She was right on my flank. Lots of times, horses run close together and never get touched, but she just had her head in the wrong place," he said. "I knew I touched her, but I couldn't quit riding.

Alvarado kept La Martina ($6) in last early.

"There was no pace. They were going nice and easy, but she's game. She gave me everything the last sixteenth," Alvarado said.

He explained he received instructions on the phone earlier in the day from Jenine Sahadi, La Martina's trainer.

"She said, 'Don't let her run too soon.' She told me to wait till the three-sixteenths. The longer you wait the better she finishes," Avarado said.

La Martina, who won the Hidden Light Stakes in her United States debut after being purchased in Great Britain by Team Valor and Gary Barber, has now won 3 of 6 starts and earned $94,945.

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