Training fields

Nolde returns to Golden Gate Fields after 29-month layoff for SF Mile


Nolde was one of California’s top 3-year-old grass horses in the spring and summer of 2019, as evidenced by his victory in the Del Mar Derby as a 2nd year. But boring performances in his two starts led to a layoff that lasted 29 months.

Now 6, Nolde is finally returning to the races on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in a full field of 14 in the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile. Northern California’s richest race highlights a schedule that includes five other high-stakes events.

Owned by Jerome Moss, Nolde had been trained by John Shirreffs – the combination is best known for the great Zenyatta and 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo. But Nolde is now trained by Steve Sherman at Golden Gate Fields, where the horse has logged seven training sessions, four of which are the fastest of the day for the distance.

“I don’t know what my stats have been for 2 1/2 years (coming back from a layoff), but the horse is doing well,” Sherman said. “Shirreffs texted me the horse was coming and I looked at his file. They tried to bring him back several times and he would have different ailments, so they figured this track (the Tapeta Footings synthetic surface) would be a little nicer to him.

All horses, even grass specialists, train regularly on the main surface of a track, which is dirt in Southern California.

“He took the Tapeta really well and didn’t miss a beat,” Sherman said. “It’s been easy since he arrived here. I know it’s going to be tough, and it’s a big field, but he had some good races on the grass. If I can run third or better with him, I’ll be tickled to death and move on.

Vanzzy, who won a stakes quality allowance race March 25 at Santa Anita, is the 4-1 morning favorite for Saturday’s 1-mile grass race. French-bred Writer, who finished third behind Vanzzy in his United States debut, follows at 9-2. Then came Restrainedvengence, the only millionaire winner on the pitch, at 5-1 and Evening Sun and Tiz Plus at 6-1. All are from Southern California.

The home contingent is led by 12-1 Harmon and Tom’s Surprise and 15-1 Jimmy Blue Jeans and Camino Del Paraiso.

Nolde is 20-1 but could be favored in a beauty contest.

“If looks were to win you a race, then this guy would stand out,” Sherman said. “He is absolutely beautiful; just a big, beautiful horse.

Larry Stumes is a freelance writer.

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