“This is huge; really, really big,” exclaimed co-owner and trainer Reina Gonzalez in the winner’s circle after she had trailered the bay colt down from Pleasanton in Northern California to make his first start in Southern California following seven races at Golden Gate and Santa Rosa that had produced one victory.
When the bay son of Bertrando popped out of the gate on top, Gonzalez was hardly surprised. “He always breaks like a rocket,” she said. “That was to be expected. But the kid (Flores) did a super job of getting him to relax, and that was it.”
The son of Bertrando, who was bred by Pam and Marty Wygod, sizzled through early fractions of 21.48, 43.78 and 56.02 before finishing the job under steady handling in 1:09.14.
Exotic Slew, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, ran on for second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place Rockinarz Recruit with Victor Espinoza aboard. Motown Men, the heavy favorite, faded to fourth after fruitlessly chasing the longshot winner during the early going.
“I didn’t know anything about him, but he’s really fast,” said Flores, who rides with a seven-pound weight allowance. “He broke sharp and he never stopped. He’s got great speed.”
Across the board, Coach Bob paid $47, $12 and $4.20. Exotic Slew returned $4.40 and $3. Rockinarz Recruit paid $3 to show.
As if doing an encore, apprentice rider Flores came back to win the day’s eighth and final race aboard a 38-1 shot, Skip Tony.
For Gonzalez, a former jockey, the training victory was her first of the year and followed a difficult 2011 season when she saddled two winners from 52 starters. Included was Coach Bob’s first victory on Dec. 4 at Golden Gate Fields. He was the 7-5 favorite in that day’s maiden claimer when ridden to a 5 ½-length win by Russell Baze for a $32,000 tag.
Coach Bob is co-owned by Jeff Kitchen, who is the brother-in-law of former UCLA national championship (1995) basketball coach Jim Harrick who was also on-hand. Friday’s score was worth $34,800 to Gonzalez and Kitchen while elevating the earnings of Coach Bob to $57,260.
Amazombie, North America’s champion sprinter in 2011, heads eight entrants in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs. Co-featured on the nine-race program is the Megahertz Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf. First post is set for 12:30 p.m. The Pick Six encompasses the fourth through the ninth races.