11/16/2009 12:00AM

Golden Nugget prompts thoughts of spring


Northern California 2-year-olds could take the first step along the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday in the $50,000 Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields.

The six-furlong Golden Nugget serves as a prep for the one-mile Gold Rush on Dec. 21, which serves as a stepping-stone for Golden Gate's early-season 3-year-old stakes next year.

Seventeen runners were nominated to the Golden Nugget, with Our Minesweeper, Northern California's most accomplished 2-year-old, listed as a definite starter by trainer Michael Lenzini. Our Minesweeper won the Cavonnier at Santa Rosa and the Bart Heller at Golden Gate.

Shudacudawudya, who has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 career starts, and recent maiden winners Tango Tango and Takehome Asouvenir are also listed as definite. Tango Tango beat Takehome Asouvenir in their debuts here on Oct. 25. Takehome Asouvenir came back to win his second start on Nov. 8.

Tribal Face, Joyful Success, and Killer Bear are listed as probable.

Among the other nominees is undefeated Sourdough Sam, who had a five-furlong maintenance drill Saturday. Trainer Dean Pederson had not committed to running.

The California-bred Seeking the Queen, a stablemate of Shudacudawudya, is also nominated, but trainer Lloyd Mason said he was primarily trying to keep his options open with her. Owners Ed and Theresa DeNike "wanted to see the other nominations to see how tough the race would be," said Mason.

Allowance a stakes prep

The Corte Madera, a one-mile stakes for 2-year-old fillies, is Dec. 5, and Wednesday's first race could serve as a major prep for that stakes. Included in the field is Antares World, a nine-length maiden winner in her last start.

Trainer Steve Specht compares her favorably with multiple stakes winner Lady Railrider, whom he also trains.

Also entered for Wednesday are the stakes-placed Take a Peak, who defeated Antares World when both debuted at Santa Rosa, the Terry Knight-trained Salty Fries, and Meetyouatgrouin's and Bleach Blonde.

Bold Chieftain heads San Quentin

Ten older runners, headed by the millionaire Bold Chieftain, were nominated to the $50,000 San Quentin, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 27.

Bold Chieftain lost his first six starts of 2009 but has won his last two starts, the Governor's Handicap at the State Fair in Sacramento and the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, to boost his career earnings to $1, 083,411. He became the first horse to win the Cal Cup Classic twice.

Run It, who won the Alcatraz on the Golden Gate turf this spring, and stakes-placed Pearl Fisher are already confirmed for the race.

Stakes winner Tiz West and stakes-place Cover Magic are listed as possible, as is Bold Chieftain.

Becrux, Cigar Man, Shem, Stormy Surge, and Yacht Spotter are also nominated.

Thanksgiving at the track

Golden Gate is taking reservations for the turf club's Thanksgiving buffet. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, with the first race at 11:15 a.m. Reservations can be made by calling (510) 559-7390. The cost is $40, including admission to the turf club and dinner.

* Golden Gate's canned food drive is scheduled for Saturday. Fans receive a clubhouse pass for each canned food item donated, with a maximum of 10 passes per customer.

* The annual grooms' Christmas party is set for Dec. 10. It is sponsored by the Race Track Chaplaincy, the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and other horsemen's organization. Barrels for toy donations for the grooms' children will be set up around the track.