Californiagoldrush Raids Sands Point Stakes


Photo: Coglianese Photos
Californiagoldrush holds off Secret Message to win the Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park

Alice Bamford's homebred Californiagoldrush struck the front in the far turn, then held off a late run from Secret Message to capture the $400,000 Sands Point Stakes (G2T) Sept. 15 on the inner turf at Belmont Park.

The victory was the first in a stakes and third from four starts for the lightly raced Cape Blanco filly, who won her first two outings and then returned from a layoff of more than six months to finish third in the Aug. 18 Del Mar Oaks (G1T).

Sent from California by Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale with jockey Flavien Prat aboard for the 1 1/16-mile test, Californiagoldrush broke well and settled in fifth early before making a big move up the backside to join the pacesetting Shadan, who led the opening quarter-mile in a mild :25.85. The duo covered a half in :52.05 and Prat backed Californiagoldrush off slightly to leave Shadan a length in front through six furlongs in 1:17.06. 

Prat took another bid at the lead around the far turn, this time easily usurping a tiring Shadan, and turned three wide for home with a length advantage. Secret Message, seventh early, made a wide rally from midpack in the turn but Californiagoldrush battled on to win by a half-length in a final time of 1:54.06 over yielding turf. Colonia checked in third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Secret Message. 

The 3-1 favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies, Californiagoldrush returned $8.30 for a $2 win wager. The $220,000 winner's share of the Sands Point purse pushed her career earnings to $322,00. She was bred in Kentucky out of the Shamardal mare Qaraaba.

"I was trying to get over on the first turn and they were walking up front, so I decided to get a little closer down the backside," Prat said. "I was a little worried about the track, it's pretty soft, but she handled it well and she's all class. She's only gotten beat once in a grade 1 after a six-month layoff, so she's very talented. She just keeps improving and making us happy."