12/15/2009 12:00AM

Sourdough Sam showed his stuff at a mile


The next stop for Sourdough Sam is the Derby Trail.

The talented 2-year-old colt passed his most recent test, winning the one-mile $64,100 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

His trainer, Dean Pederson, said the Jan. 16 California Derby seemed the logical next start for Sourdough Sam, a son of Decarchy who has three wins and a troubled second in his brief career.

A John Nicoletti homebred, Sourdough Sam was tired following his one-length victory over Our Minesweeper in the Gold Rush, but Pederson said, "That's good. He got something out of the race."

Some may question just how good Sourdough Sam is after recording a somewhat slow 1:39.39 final time, but the track wasn't playing that fast Saturday. What pleased Pederson was the way the gelding finished, running his final quarter-mile in 24.69.

"I know the final time wasn't overly impressive, but his last quarter of 24 and change was good," said Pederson. "If you're going to run at the next level, you have to finish routes. The races will get harder, but I think he'll improve off that race."

Sourdough Sam has a laid-back personality around the barn, but Pederson said, "He's always been a colt with a lot of try and desire. Whatever he's done, he's given you confidence."

Our Minesweeper gave a decent try, relaxing behind Swiss Memo's slow pace. He finished all right but simply wasn't a match for the winner.

The complexion of the race changed immediately when likely pacesetter Privalaged reared in the gate and wound up trailing the field rather than leading it. He made a bid to get in contention on the second turn but ran out of gas in the lane.

Long-awaited victory

Beau Tiful Slew's $63.80 victory in the second race on Dec. 9 carried 79-year-old trainer Joanne Chandler into the winner's circle for the first time since Award Winner won on Nov. 18, 2006.

Chandler, who has a mare with a foal from Award Winner due in March, was 0 for 21 in 2007, 0 for 17 in 2008, and had been 0 for 11 this year.

She said she bet on Beau Tiful Slew.

"I bet on my horses," she said. "I never want to take a chance one might win. My vet even bet this one."

Chandler, a retired chief deputy in the Alameda County court system. said she has four horses in training "and train mostly for myself."

Chandler claimed her first horse in 1979 and took out a trainer's license in the late 1980s.

She is proud of the fact she's never been fined by the stewards - "They've talked to me a few times" - or had a bad test on one of her horses.

One-man crusade

Trainer Bill Anton had only one horse run under his name during the 2008 State Fair meet at Sacramento, one who went unplaced, but he was concerned about what he saw as a six-figure purse underpayment at the meet.

Working independently and prodding the California Horse Racing Board and Thoroughbred Owners of California, Anton has scored an initial victory for his fellow trainers, as the owners' group, in a Dec. 9 letter, demanded that $141,685 of the perceived underpayment be paid to horsemen within 60 days.

"I pursued it because I felt it wasn't right," said Anton. "I did it for the right reasons."

Magic number for Baze

There was an interesting coincidence when Russell Baze reached 400 victories on the year in Sunday's third race, for the 13th time in his career.

Victory No. 400 this year came aboard the Dennis Patterson-trained Advance Ticket. Baze's 400th victory in 1996 also came on a Patterson-trained runner, Devilish Nature. That win also came in the third race, on the Dec. 7, 1996, card.

Baze hit 400 11 times in 12 years from 1992-2003, missing only in 1999 when he was sidelined with an injury. He reached 400 again last year, when he posted 403 wins.

The 51-year-old Baze is gunning to lead the nation in victories for the 11th time in his career. He is on pace for his 11,000th victory next year. He currently has a world-record 10,725 victories.

Trainers in tight race

The final four-day week will see quite a battle for the meet training title.

Perennial leader Jerry Hollendorfer holds a one-victory lead over Steve Sherman, 23-22. Both had victories Sunday. Steve Specht and Billy Morey are tied for third with 19 wins apiece.

Let it snow

Saturday will be Snow Day at Golden Gate Fields, with 40 tons of snow imported for children to enjoy with various activities, including a hill for sledding.

The meet ends Sunday with the usual $1 Sunday promotion and NFL games shown throughout the track.