04/05/2010 11:00PM

Turf or dirt option for Bold Chieftain

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Bill Morey Jr. got just the effort he needed from Bold Chieftain in his allowance victory over Monterey Jazz last Friday at Golden Gate Fields. The race should set up Bold Chieftain perfectly for the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile on April 24.

Bold Chieftain and jockey Russell Baze were content to sit farther off the pace than might be expected, just as they did in winning the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita on Jan. 30.

Although he seemed to be losing ground on the turn, Bold Chieftain kicked into gear in the lane, and Baze didn't ask for more once his mount passed Monterey Jazz. Bold Chieftain won by three-quarters of a length and ran the mile over a rain-soaked Tapeta surface in 1:36.21, the fastest mile time of the meet. He received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

"When he got by him, I think Russell throttled down a little bit," said Morey. "This is a horse that won't keep running if you don't ask him."

It was a big day for Baze, who won with with six of his seven mounts on the card.

The win was Morey's 16th trip to the winner's circle with the 7-year-old Bold Chieftain, a horse that he bred and owns with partners Kenneth Robinson, Dwaine Hall, and the late Ernest Langbein.

Bold Chieftain is likely to run in the San Francisco Mile although Morey is also considering the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star, also on April 24. The $200,000 purse for that race is $50,000 more than the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile. The Texas Mile is run on dirt; the San Francisco mile on turf.

"Right now, we're leaning toward the San Francisco Mile," Morey said. "The way purses are being slashed all over the country, I don't think that's a bad purse. We'll probably have some tough runners from Southern California."

Monterey Jazz was making his first start since last October for trainer Craig Dollase and didn't run badly. He was outsprinted early by Prairie City Road but put his head in front after the first quarter-mile and extended his lead to six by the quarter pole, running the first six furlongs in 1:12.32.

"He's a very difficult horse to ride," said Dollase, who brought Martin Garcia north to ride Monterey Jazz.

"Hopefully, this will help him," Dollase said. "I think we accomplished what we wanted."

Another possible San Francisco Mile candidate, Merus Miami, ran Friday but lost a nod at the wire to Dance Chief in an optional $50,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

The race was the third for stakes-winning Merus Miami after more than a year on the sidelines.

"He's going fine. I'm excited with him," said trainer O.J. Jauregui. "I know he's coming back even better than before."

Merus Miami has never run on turf but does have a strong turf pedigree. He is a son of Friends Lake out of the Copelan mare Profit System.

"I don't know where we'll go," Jauregui said. "He's never tried the turf, but he might be a horse that likes turf. He might be okay with his stride."

Jauregui said he would need to work the 4-year-old Merus Miami on the turf in order to run in the San Francisco Mile.

Bill Delia, trainer of Dance Chief, said he would like to bring the 5-year-old gelding back against similar competition in a second-level $50,000 optional claimer. He said he might then consider the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap on May 31.

"He's a hard-trying horse, but he's kind of had bad luck," Delia said of Dance Chief, who has 10 seconds to go with his 5 victories. "If he gets the right trip, he can beat horses on his day."

Turf racing, 2-year-olds reappear

Golden Gate Fields is scheduled to re-open its turf course this week even though the track was hit by some heavy rains over the weekend, including hail on Sunday.

The first race of the season for 2-year-olds will be run Thursday.

"We think it's going to help field size," said track general manager Robert Hartman. "Horses have been waiting for a return to the turf, and our first 2-year-old race drew eight runners. It's a positive that the first one in the book went for the 2-year-olds."

Hartman said Golden Gate would be careful with its use of the turf course but added, "Traditionally, we've allowed horses preparing for stakes to train on it."

Good double for hunch players

There were two winners for hunch players on Sunday's card.

Easter High ($11.60) won the first race. After an Easter egg hunt in the paddock earlier in the day, Mad for Candy ($7) won race 2. The two hunch plays combined for an overlaid $56.40 daily double.

Conformation clinic on Saturday

The Thoroughbred Owners of California is hosting a free conformation clinic at 10 a.m. Saturday in the owner/trainer lounge in the paddock. Trainers Jeff Bonde and Keith Nations will cover basics of conformation and how it relates to soundness and performance. Attendees will also get close-up looks at racehorses and a chance to ask questions.

Reservations are recommended for the free event and can be made by calling the TOC at (800) 994-9909 or online at www.toconline.com.

* Three horses were claimed for $4,000 last Thursday. That brought the total claims at the current meeting to 92 for a combined $1,001,000, highlighted by the $50,000 claim of Shem on Jan. 23.