PLEASANTON, Calif. (June 20, 2015) -- Chuck “C.C.” Lopez, a longtime jockey on the New York-New Jersey circuit, came to the Bay Area a month ago to visit his sons, David C. and Erick Lopez, who were riding at Golden Gate Fields.
The elder Lopez has picked up some mounts while he’s been in the area, won some races and accentuated his visit with a front-running 40-to-1 upset victory aboard California-bred Blues Blaster in the $65,660 Oak Tree Handicap on Saturday at the Alameda County Fair.
“Speed horse, speed track, speed rider. Add two plus two and the rest is history,” Lopez said.
Blues Blaster had shown speed both sprinting and routing in most of his 13 starts prior to Saturday’s 11/16-mile event, but didn’t exhibit much when he finished sixth in the Grade 3 All American Stakes on May 25 at Golden Gate Fields.
“The last time we weren’t able to get the lead, but we knew after watching the races (Friday) that if we could get the lead we’d feel good,” owner-trainer Bruce Dillenbeck said.
Blues Blaster and Lopez did just that, and it didn’t take too much effort as they set slow fractions of 24.29 seconds, 47.90 and 1:11.39 while maintaining a narrow advantage inside of Eagle Screams.
G. G. Ryder and Outside Nashville — the 1-2 finishers from the All American Stakes — tried to make their moves in the stretch, but Blues Blaster and Eagle Screams kept going. Blues Blaster had a half-length on Eagle Screams at the wire, and it was 1½ lengths farther back to Outside Nashville, who edged G. G. Ryder by a head for third.
The 9-to-5 favorite in the field of seven, G. G. Ryder had a lot going against him. It was his first start on conventional dirt, he carried highweight of 124 pounds — eight more than Blues Blaster — and his come-from-behind style didn’t suit the racetrack.
“He wasn’t comfortable on the dirt,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, who had ridden G. G. Ryder to five wins and two second-place finishes in the colt’s past seven starts on Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic and turf surfaces. “He was jumping a little bit.”