When co-owner and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer described G. G. Ryder as a warrior heading into Monday's Grade 3, $100,900 All American at Golden Gate Fields, he couldn't have come up with a more accurate description.
G. G. Ryder ($23.80) dug in down the lane of the one-mile race, edging past pacesetting stablemate Street Lad and the favored Alert Bay while holding off Flamboyant to win a four-way photo. The four hit the finish line together, with G. G. Ryder a head in front of Flamboyant, who was a head in front of Alert Bay, who was a nose in front of Street Lad. The winning time was 1:37.48.
"I had a great feeling coming down the stretch," said jockey Irving Orozco, who got the trip he wanted from G. G. Ryder. "I knew he had the inside horses [Street Lad and Alert Bay] put away, and I wanted to hold off the outside horse [Flamboyant]. As we got closer to the wire, he dug in more and more."
Street Lad, taking a big step up after a pair of front-running allowance victories, broke sharply and took the lead from the rail. He got away with slow fractions of 25.14 and 49.46 seconds as even-money favorite Alert Bay sat contentedly in second, just as he had done in winning the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile in his previous start. He didn't put as much pressure on the untested Street Lad as he had Many Roses through faster fractions in the San Francisco Mile on the turf.
Orozco, who rallied G. G. Ryder to edge Many Roses for second in the San Francisco Mile, made a slight adjustment in the All American.
"I was a little disappointed last time," he said. "I let Alert Bay get away from me, so I sat a little bit closer today."
Though fourth most of the way, Orozco was closer to the favorite than in the San Francisco Mile, and although he was fifth at the quarter pole as Camino Del Paraiso made an early move, Orozco was where he wanted to be.
"Once I got to the outside, I went to the left-handed whip, and he just dug in. He's a wonderful horse," Orozco said.
Hollendorfer entered four runners in the race, including Point Piper and Ike Walker, who finished seventh and eighth, beating only the tiring Camino Del Paraiso.
"This horse always tries really hard," he said of the winner. "We've gotten good performances from him. He's never changed. He's eager to do things every day. He's been a good horse for us."
Hollendorfer was also pleased with Street Lad's effort.
"Street Lad will be heard from," he said. "Frank [Alvarado] said he might have moved a little too soon, but he had the lead, and they had a hard time getting to him."
G. G. Ryder, owned by Hollendorfer and Dr. George Todaro, earned $60,000 for his second All American win after winning the race in 2015. He has now earned $611,095 with 13 wins in 36 starts. His record at Golden Gate Fields is eight wins, five seconds, and three thirds in 18 starts.
His victory Monday was a milestone of sorts as he defeated millionaire Alert Bay for the first time in nine tries. The two likely will meet this summer in the Longacres Mile, with Hollendorfer offering Orozco the mount for that race after the All American victory.