By Dennis Miller
PLEASANTON, Calif. (July 2, 2016) -- The race track in Pleasanton that hosts the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet during the Alameda County Fair has long been known as a speed-favoring track and many times, the first horse into the stretch often wins the race.
Often, but not always.
Saturday afternoon the running of the $50,000 Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old fillies run at 5 ½ furlongs did not follow the pattern of the Pleasanton tracks, as California-bred Only You Babe came from last to first to win the race.
In fact, Only You Babe was still in fifth in the six-horse field as they turned for home. But jockey Frank Alvarado knew things would fall his way.
Only You Babe is by Thorn Song, out of the Johannesburg mare Book’em Babe, was bred by owners Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams and is trained by Steve Specht. She has two wins in four starts, earnings of $63,800 and wa coming off a maiden win June 11.
“I wasn’t worried about the front speed,” said Alvarado. “She’s a pretty good filly and when I asked her to go – she went.”
The front-end speed ultimately set up the race as Ronnie’s Girl (out of the Jeff Bonde barn) and Lemonaideen (a Southern California shipper) went out quick, not blazing fast, but fast enough that it set up for a closer.
“I thought there would be three horses go to the lead, but only two did,” said winning trainer Steve Specht of the six-horse field. “It still worked out well. When she got out, she went. I told Frank not worry about the speed.”
And worry he didn’t, although he just barely got up, edging second-place finisher Unbroken Code by a nose at the line. Bonde’s Unforgivable U held on for third, with Lemonaideen finished fourth.