04/30/2016 9:48PM

Locally based Alert Bay captures San Francisco Mile

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Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography
Alert Bay, ridden by Tyler Baze, prevails by a neck over Gabriel Charles in the Grade 3 San Franisco Mile.

ALBANY, Calif. -- Alert Bay continued the string of Northern California success in Golden Gate Fields's top race for older horses, the Grade 3, $101,800 San Francisco Mile on Saturday, as he withstood Gabriel Charles's strong finish to win by a neck.

The race, which had 13 runners after the scratch of Home Run Kitten, was competitive throughout as defending champion G.G. Ryder wound up on the lead ahead of Royal F with Alert Bay, who broke from post 11 for trainer Blaine Wright, sitting a close third just outside Kenjisstorm.

 "Blaine sharpened him up. We wanted to show more speed and sit a little closer because of the outside post position," said winning jockey Tyler Baze.

 Alert Bay ($9.80) sat outside G.G. Ryder and inched up to engage him at the half-mile pole. The pair battled on even terms but G.G. Ryder opened a 1 1/2-length lead at the quarter pole.

 But Baze continued on as G.G. Ryder began to falter in his first start since Jan. 30, and Alert Bay put his head in front for the first time approaching the eighth pole.

 The favored Bal a Bali, who stalked from post 12, was ready to unleash a challenge as the field straightened into the stretch, while Gabriel Charles, who was making his first start since winning the Grade 1 Eddie Read last July 18, was moving up into contention after getting off a bit slowly before settling into a ground-saving trip.

 Gabriel Charles was flying in the lane making up almost all of the three lengths he spotted the winner, but Alert Bay stubbornly held on, winning the race in 1:36.39. He is the sixth Northern California-based winner in the past seven runnings of the race, a string that includes a victory by the Wright-trained Hudson Landing.

  "Every time I've ridden him, he's given me everything," said Baze, who has four wins, a second, and a third in seven stakes appearances aboard Alert Bay.

  "To outrun Gabriel Charles shows how good this horse is."

 Both jockey Mike Smith and trainer Jeff Mullins were pleased with Gabriel Charles's effort.

"We just wanted to see him come back to his old self, and he did," said Mullins.

 "By the way I feel, you would have thought I won," said Smith. "He's been through so much with him. Jeff has been tremendous with him. How he got him back so good it’s crazy. I'm extremely impressed."

 So, too, was Wright.

 "This kind of horse puts a trainer on the map," said Wright of Alert Bay a millionaire 5-year-old City Zip Cal-bred gelding owned by Peter Redekop.

 "We live and we train and we race right here. To have our good horse be able to run for this kind of money in our hometown on the turf, there's nothing better."

 Alert Bay's 12th victory in 25 starts was worth $60,000 and increased his lifetime earnings to $1,098,815,

 Wright said he might give Alert Bay a break, but the decision will be discussed with Redekop in a few days.