The Jeff Bonde party which the Alameda County Fair horse racing meet is turning into, locked up yet another winner Saturday, when Bonde's Excessive Passion romped home to an easy win in the $50,000 Everett Nevin Alameda County Stakes.
Excessive Passion, a 2-year-old who is now a perfect 2-for-2 in his young and very promising career, broke well, dueled for the first half of the 5-furlong race, then blew the field away when they turned for home, winning by over three lengths under a strong ride from Omar Figueroa.
"It's like driving a Porsche with a lot of gears," said Bonde of Excessive Passion, who went off as the prohibitive favorite. "When they turned for home, I knew it was over. He shifted gears and ran away from the field."
Erin's Cajun finished second, with Sweet Tigger in third.
What's even more impressive with the win is Bonde feels Excessive Passion wasn't as good as he could have been Saturday.
"He missed a month of workouts with a shin problem," said Bonde. "We were able to get him three works coming into the race, but he won this on ability, not fitness. He's a man among boys."
The win was the seventh 2-year-old win in a row for the Bonde and Excessive Passion co-owner Phil Lebherz. Rusty Brown and Alan Klein are the other owners of Saturday's winner, but it's all about the Bonde-Lebherz combo in Northern California right now, who also have the very talented Smiling Tiger in their stable.
Next up for both Excessive Passion and Smiling Tiger will be races at Del Mar.
Arguably the most talented field at the Alameda County Fair will take to the track today with the 44th running of the $50,000 Alamedan Handicap.
The Alamedan is a 1-mile test for 3-year-olds and upwards and will feature a pair of powerful Northern California horses in Sierra Sunset and Bold Chieftain.
Bold Chieftain, now 6-years-old, may have seen better days since running in the Breeders' Cup Mile last year. But the horse, who won the Alamedan in 2007, still should have enough to be a serious favorite.
In fact, Bold Chieftain, out of the Bill Morey Jr. barn, was second in the Grade III Berkeley and third in the Grade II San Francisco Mile, both taking place earlier this year at Golden Gate Fields.
Bold Chieftain will get the services of Northern California's leading rider Russell Baze for the race.
Sierra Sunset seemed destined for the Kentucky Derby last year, winning the Grade II Rebel at Oaklawn Park before being sidetracked by an injury. The Jeff Bonde-trained 4-year-old was on the shelf until early June, where he ran ninth after running into trouble in the lane in the Grade III Ack Ack at Hollywood Park.
Since then, Sierra Sunset has blistered the Pleasanton track with a series of impressive works, including three straight bullet (fastest of the day) works leading up to the race.
William Antongeorgi III takes the call for Bonde on Sierra Sunset.
JACK ROBINSON HONORS LEGENDARY JOCKEY
The second race today is the Jack Robinson Handicap, an 870-yard, Quarter Horse stakes race honoring the late Jack Robinson.
During his career, Robinson rode 11,079 thoroughbred mounts, with 1,369 winners, 1,338 seconds and 1,395 thirds. Towards the end of his career, he had continued success on quarter horses, and finished with over $3 million in career earnings between the two.
But as talented jockey as Robinson was, he was an even better person. According to reports from when he was riding, Robinson was easily the most popular jockey in the jocks room, always going out of his way to help any jockey, especially the up and coming jockeys.
Ultimately, it was his desire to help others which cost him his life.
Robinson was killed June 20, 1973 in a Quarter Horse race at the Solano County Fair in Vallejo. As was true to his incredible character, Robinson's accident on the track came as a result of his trying to help a rider in trouble during race before being run over by a horse, sustaining massive chest injuries.
Shortly following the race, Robinson's widow Betty was quoted as saying, "Jack lived his life to help others. I guess it was only fitting he died doing the same."
DeDe Robinson, one of Robinson's six children, is one of the placing judges for the Alameda County Fair and will be in the winner's circle following the race today.
A statue of Robinson stands outside the jockey's room at Pleasanton.