04/02/2013 11:42AM

Golden Gate: Long layoffs can't stop Six Votes

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Six Votes was overlooked in the wagering at 11-1 when he took on six rivals here last Friday in a $12,500 claimer.

He was plenty fresh.

Six Votes was making his first start since Sept. 24, 2011, which in turn was his first start since Oct. 28, 2010. That makes three starts in almost 2 1/2 years, separated by 11 months and 1 1/2 years.

Ridden by Francisco Duran, Six Votes held off odds-on favorite Stone Hot in a stretch-long duel and wound up winning a three-way photo over Stone Hot and Traweek.

The victory was tribute to the patience and perseverance of trainer Greg James.

Six Votes, a 5-year-old Tribal Rule gelding, ran well in all four of his starts at 2 in 2010. He was third in his debut at Santa Rosa for a $25,000 claiming tag. He showed improvement when second for a $20,000 tag at Golden Gate Fields before winning his next start for a $32,000 tag. He followed that with a starter allowance victory.

But then the layoffs started.

He injured a tendon while on a walker in fall 2010 and had to go to the sidelines.

“He had a tendon,” James said. “It wasn’t bad, and he could get over it. When he was injured, I told the owners it would take a long time, but they didn’t give him enough time.”

Eleven months later, Six Votes ran last in his return and needed to go to the sidelines again. His original owners let him go, and James found a new owner in Roger Wynn.

“We forgot him for a whole year,” James said. “We just spent extra time with him at our farm in Utah.”

Six Votes is only a claiming horse, but he does have a special place in James’s heart.

“He’s just so professional,” James said. “He doesn’t give you any trouble. He’s got a cool personality.”

Six Votes began his latest comeback with a three-furlong work Jan. 27 and had nine works before his return to action. He didn’t miss a beat, working every week, including two six-furlong works and three five-furlong works.

“He came back really well,” James said.

When James entered Six Votes he called Tom Doutrich, the agent for rider Francisco Duran, to tell him that the gelding was healthy and ready and could be ridden with confidence. Duran kept Six Votes third for the first part of the six-furlong race, and they took the lead with a furlong to run.

“He rode him just perfect,” James said. “That was the way I wanted him to be ridden.”

James called the victory, “a great thrill.”

“It felt so good,” he said.

James said credit for the victory should go to his assistant, Mary Tanian.

“She’s done unbelievable things with him,” he said. “I’d say 75 percent of the credit goes to her for all the extra time she put in. He gets poultices every day, and she just really takes care of him.”