The last time trainer Cliff DeLima ran Perfect Curls, the horse won a maiden race at 4-1/2 furlongs. So when DeLima entered Perfect Curls in the 32nd running of the Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes at 5-1/2 furlongs Saturday at the Alameda County Fair, he felt pretty comfortable.
"The farther they go it should better for her," said DeLima.
And DeLima was right, as the horse flew home down the stretch and won the 2-year-old fillies stakes race by five lengths.
"The race was perfect for me,'' said Michael Martinez, the jockey on Perfect Curls. "Cliff told me to lay her back and she would run really nice for me."
Which is just what happened. Perfect Curls sat fourth for awhile, then moved easily into third on turn, sat second at the top of the lane, then blew past every in the lane to get the win.
"I knew I had plenty (of horse)," said Martinez. "I knew no one would catch me once I had the lead."
Sweet Baguette, the favorite and ridden by Russell Baze, finished second in her first start. Baze got a clean break on the horse, but Sweet Baguette didn't respond favorably when the front running horses shut down the lanes in back-stretch.
"When they closed in front of her, she got back a bit more than I would have liked," explained Baze. "Then I had to ask for more earlier than I would have liked. But she ran a good race. She was still digging at the end."
Baze ended up finishing almost a length in front of Rockin Heather who finished third.
Earlier in the day, Heza Hot Habit took home the 41st running of the P.C.Q.H.R.A. Handicap a Quarter-horse at 350 yards.
The horse was ridden by Gregorio Arriaga and trained by Danny Harrell.
Sunday features the $50,000 Alamedan Handicap in the 9th race, a 1-1/2 race for 3-year-olds. The race sets up as a battle between a pair of Southern California invaders in Warren's Pepe and Unusual Suspect and Northern California's Run It.