Updated on 09/17/2011 1:16PM

More Crafty pulls off Danville Handicap upset

Vassar Photo
More Crafty wins the $59,312 Danville Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

ALBANY, Calif. - More Crafty ($44.60), winner of the Albany Handicap the first weekend of the meet, sat well off a fast pace and got to the finish line first in a perfectly timed ride to edge Green Team by a head in the $59,312 Danville Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

More Crafty, claimed for $80,000 on Jan. 31, was a disappointing fourth in the Coyote Handicap at Turf Paradise in his first start for trainer Rene Amescua.

He broke well but settled nicely and relaxed well as El Dorado Shooter opened a daylight lead with fractions of 21.53 and 43.73. He began to move up as he circled horses on the turn and dug in when straightened into the lane.

Green Team, the 2-to-1 favorite, was closer to the pace than usual and took over nearing the eighth pole as El Dorado Shooter stopped badly, shortening stride. He was well clear but couldn't hold off More Crafty, who covered six furlongs in 1:08.94.

"I ride him in the morning, and he was feeling good," said winning jockey Pedro Mercado, whose last stakes win was in the Burlingame Stakes on Oct. 16, 1998. "He was relaxing very well early, and he responded well when I took him outside. Rene told me just to play it by ear and see what comes up. He said to break, make one run and win the race."

Amescua knew there would be plenty of speed in the race, which might help his chances.

"It's just one of those things," he said. "Take a chance, and it worked out right.

"We took him to Phoenix and thought if he ran well we'd come back in the Gold Cup, but he didn't fire so we brought him home. We'll see how it plays out, but there are plenty of spots to run these horses. It's not like you bring them back in a week or two."

Russell Baze, who rode runner-up Green Team, said, "If I'd have know El Dorado Shooter would quit that bad, I might not have moved so early. My horse didn't quit, the other one just ran us down."

K O Love, making his first start since winning his debut last May, re-rallied in the lane to finish third, five lengths behind Green Team.

More Crafty earned $30,850 for his fifth victory in 17 starts. He has career earnings of $165,750.