Mad Luther Ships In for Golden Nugget Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 8th, 2018

Although five local runners are set to defend their home track in Saturday’s $50,000 Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, the one shipper from the East Coast appears to stand a solid chance at coming away with the winner’s share of the purse. The cross-country traveler in question is Mad Luther, and while the son of Mad Flatter has been racing over a mile as of late—significantly farther than the six-furlong distance of the Golden Nugget—he’s already accomplished a lot with maiden and allowance wins at Presque Isle Downs, which has a synthetic Tapeta track just like Golden Gate Fields.

Mad Luther has speed and will surely use it one Saturday while making his first start for new trainer Jonathan Wong, the leading trainer at the current Golden Gate Fields meet with 13 wins from just 37 starters, as impressive 35% strike rate. Juan Hernandez, one of the leading riders on the circuit, will pick up the mount, so from a connections standpoint Mad Luther will be racing for a very high-profile team.

The local runners do have a home-court advantage, though they have more to prove from a class perspective than Mad Luther, as none have won more than a maiden race and only one has even competed against winners. That one happens to be Mad Luther’s Wong-trained stablemate The White Shadow, who was a decisive 2 ½-length maiden winner over this track and distance before shipping to Fresno, where he was beaten a nose in a 5 ½-furlong allowance race on dirt after leading by three lengths at the eighth pole. Like Mad Luther, The White Shadow likes to race on the lead, and since he’s been sprinting he’s accustomed to setting much faster fractions than Mad Luther, which could give The White Shadow the advantage in the early going.

The Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, long a dominant player on the Northern California circuit, will be represented by the once-raced Tivan, who narrowly won his debut going 5 ½ furlongs over the Golden Gate Tapeta track three weeks ago. Tribal War Chant won a similar race by six lengths back in September, an effort that came one start after he finished last on debut in a maiden race for California-breds at Del Mar.

Midnight Special, sixth and fifth in his first two starts against state-breds at Golden Gate, will give Tapeta another try after shipping to Fresno and breaking his maiden over the dirt track, while Daddy Jones—winner of a $25,000 maiden claiming race at Golden Gate on October 19th—completes the field.

The Golden Nugget Stakes is the seventh race on the card, with a post time of 3:45 p.m. Pacific.