10/25/2011 2:30PM

Golden Gate: Sourdough Sam's win in Oakland a big one for Pederson, Lopez


Dean Pederson’s happy homecoming turned into a milestone victory for jockey David Lopez in Saturday’s Oakland Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Pederson, who moved his barn south this spring, made a triumphant comeback when Sourdough Sam rallied from last to pull away from old rival – and odds-on favorite – Shudacudawudya in the stretch of the six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and up. For Lopez, it was victory No. 1,000 in his career.

Pederson moved to Southern California last spring when the Hollywood Park meet opened.

“I’m a Northern California boy at heart,” he said, “but I did what I had to do for my business and myself. It’s not easy down there, but the rewards can be good.”

Sourdough Sam, a 4-year-old Decarchy gelding owned by his breeder, John Nicoletti, was arguably Northern California’s best 2-year-old in 2009, splitting decisions with Shudacudawudya before winning the one-mile Gold Rush. He notched three wins and a second at Golden Gate Fields at 2.

Sourdough Sam was sidelined for eight months with a shin problem as a 3-year-old before returning to action and beating a good field of older runners in his turf debut in a five-furlong sprint. He went to the sidelines again after running fifth in a Fairplex stakes in September and returned almost a year late this August in a $62,500 optional claimer at Del Mar, running sixth. He was also sixth Oct. 2 in a $40,000 claimer down the hill on the turf course at Santa Anita, which crosses the main track.

“The first time, he loomed up inside but didn’t go on,” Pederson said. “The second start he propped when they came to the dirt. The Santa Anita main track doesn’t fit his running style, so we thought we’d take a shot on a track he likes. If he ran his race, we would have been happy. He did not have to win.”

Although Sourdough Sam won a stakes at a mile, Pederson believes his best races are probably at 6 1/2 or seven furlongs. He also plans to run Sourdough Sam in the six-furlong turf sprints when racing returns to Hollywood Park in November.

Sourdough Sam also has a 2-year-old full brother who has some ability. Named Pantettone, he won his debut at Del Mar and then ran third in the Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita last Thursday.

Pederson said Pantettone might return to Golden Gate Fields next month for the Golden Nugget Nov. 12 and perhaps the Gold Rush on Dec. 10, both races that Sourdough Sam ran in.

As for the 30-year-old Lopez, he said he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate his 1,000th U.S. victory than winning a stakes.

Lopez, won nearly 500 races in his native Peru before coming to the United States in 2001 and settling in Northern California the next year.

“My dad was a rider for 24 years, and he showed me everything,” said Lopez. “I know he’s happy. He’s been waiting for me to do this.”

Lopez is a solid journeyman rider. He has finished in the top three of major meet jockey standings four times and is probably best known for riding the filly Wild Promises to four stakes victories in 2008. He also won the 2007 California Derby with Bwana Bull and the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in 2009 with Autism Awareness.

Lopez had seen Sourdough Sam race but was climbing aboard him for the first time last Saturday.

“I checked the way the horse liked to run, and the trainer said to be patient with him,” Lopez said. “I just tried to ride him with confidence, but, to be honest, I was a little worried at the beginning.”

Though they were far back, Lopez let Sourdough Sam find his stride. Sourdough Sam moved up on the turn and was moving nicely when Lopez guided him outside. The rider still wasn’t sure he was going to win as the horses turned into the stretch.

“When he switched leads and I switched the stick to my left hand, I knew he could win,” Lopez said. “He was going so good, and I knew I had a lot of horse.”

Back trouble for Baze

Russell Baze took off most of his mounts Friday and Saturday and did not ride Sunday because of back spasms.

Baze won with Magic Spirit in the first race Friday but took off the rest of his mounts after finishing fifth aboard Dashingly in the fourth race. He rode only one race Saturday, with Five a Day, who finished seventh in the fourth race.

Baze was schedule to undergo an MRI early in the week to try to determine the cause of the spasms.