The strategy for William Antongeorgi III and his mount Street Lad was pretty simple for the 46th running of the Joseph T. Grace Handicap Saturday at the Sonoma County Fair.
“I just wanted to get him out there because that’s his style,” said Antongeorgi of the Jerry Hollendorfer trained runner. “We wanted him out there and see if he could relax.”
And he did just, taking the field wire to wire as Street Lad captured the race.
On the surface, it seemed like a moderately risky proposition for the one-and-one-sixteenth miler race on the turf. Through the first six days of the Wine Country Racing meet, coming off the pace has seemed the preferable running style on the turf track.
But as the meet has progressed, the front-end speed on the grass has gotten stronger and that was the case Saturday as Street Lad led from the start, seldom by more than a length ahead, but he was head off any challengers.
Two closers – Camino Del Paraiso and G. G. Ryder – did rally from deep to finish second and third, while the other early speed horses went backward, but once Street Lad got out, the wasn’t to be denied.
The third favorite in the race did get pushed in the lane, but he dug in and responded. It was the first time Antongeorgi had been on the horse, but the form and running style was evident. By the time the race was half-way through, Antongeorgi was feeling good.
“He had his ears pricked throughout,” said the jockey, who will ride Seattle Serenade for Hollendorfer Sunday in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Washington. “He handled it very well.”
Racing resumes Sunday at 1:15 p.m. and there are a pair of stakes races as the 2-year-olds take center stage with the running of the Wine Country Debutante and the Jess Jackson Juvenile Stakes.
The free, Daily Handicapping Seminar takes place at 11:30 a.m. Track announcer Michael Wrona is the special guest for co-hosts Michael Patricks and Dennis Miller.