Cal West Racing kicked off Saturday’s southern California racing action by winning the first race at Santa Anita Park with Backwoods Bell. The racing operation ended it with a win by the former $2,500 claimer The Sunol Grade in the $16,000 Gold Rush Handicap in the ninth and final race on the Los Alamitos card.
Ridden by Ramon Guce for trainer Lorenzo Ruiz, The Sunol Grade was picking up his fifth win in 11 career starts, while earning $8,800 in the Gold Rush at 870 yards. The win was his second stakes victory around the turn for the son of Onebadshark following his win in the Snowbound Superstar earlier this year.
“It was good to see him come back with this type of a race,” said Mick Fessler of Cal West Racing. “We had to scratch him out of his last start because of an abscess. We had to wait for the infection to heal. He was quick at the start and I knew that he was going to be tough at the end.”
The Sunol Grade won the distance race by 1 ¼ lengths over recent El Ocho Setenta Handicap winner Magoo.
Fessler of Huntington Beach has been involved in racing since 1982. He took several years off from racehorse ownership, but he’s been a very active participant in the sport with his horse’s racing for trainer Ruiz and Justin Clark.
“My office used to be across the street from Los Alamitos,” Fessler said. “I came to a yearling sale at Los Alamitos and bought my first horse. The next year I attended an owner’s seminar and I met some great people like Charlie Bloomquist, Guy Matlock and several others.”
Fessler’s first standout was Tough Guys, which he purchased for $3,000. Tough Guys went on to win over $100,000. A year after Tough Guys, Fessler bought his next horse for $1,400. The runner went on to earn over $57,000.
The owner has enjoyed some recent success as well. In addition to The Sunol Grade’s wins this season, Fessler and trainer Justin Clark combined to win seven races in a row last year.
“I’ve own 40 to 50 horses over the years,” he added. “Horse racing is what I love to do.”
Gary Boag piloted Magoo to second place finish for trainer Keith Craigmyle. Owned by Lewis Greenspan, Magoo earned $3,600 for running second. Changing Karma, Mi Agave, Aerial Artist, Secret Lass, Follow The Dream and Time For A Royal Dip completed the field.