by Chuck Dybdal
ALBANY, Calif. – A tight three-way photo and a dominating performance brought an end to the eight-stakes Gold Rush Weekend at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday.
Irish Heatwave (Unusual Heat) dueled head-and-head with Listing to deep stretch and then held off the late runs of Our Silver Oak and Lieutenant Dan in winning the $101,500 Silky Sullivan for Cal-bred 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf.
Listing flashed good speed after breaking from the outside post in the Silky Sullivan. Irish Heatwave, who broke from the No. 3 post, stayed right with his rival while saving ground throughout. The winner never got a breather as he stuck his nose in front of Listing at the quarter pole, and the two continued to race in tandem into the stretch.
When Listing, who finished fourth, only one-half length behind the winner, hung a bit in the stretch, Lieutenant Dan and Our Silver Oak were right there to challenge. Our Silver Oak appeared to have his nose in front just before the wire, but Irish Heatwave had his nose first on the wire, winning the race in 1:36.60.
“I couldn’t call it,” said winning jockey Irving Orozco. “Lucky I had a game horse.”
Juan Hernandez was confident he’d outfinished Lieutenant Dan but said he couldn’t see Orozco and Irish Heatwave.
Irish Heatwave earned $60,000 for his first stakes win and third victory in eight starts. He has earnings of $160,292 for Calumet Farm. Keith Desormeaux is the trainer.