A field of 10 is set to compete in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Berkeley, California. The race will cover 1 1/8 mile over the Tapeta surface and is the eighth on a nine-race card.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will send two to the gate—a colt and a filly. Russian Greek, a son of Giant’s Causeway, has been installed as the morning-line favorite at odds of 5-2. Russian Greek will again pair with jockey Aaron Gryder who piloted the colt to a one length victory over El Camino Real Derby contender Cahill Chrome in the 1 1/16 mile California Derby on Jan. 14 Golden Gate Fields. He has three wins out of four starts, two of which were stakes victories.
Lady of Fifty, owned and trained by Hollendorfer, will make her first start against the boys. She is undefeated in her last three starts which comprised the Golden Gate Fields series of stakes races for fillies. She has consistently increased her distances and, with four wins at Golden Gate, appears to be a horse for the course. Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze gets the mount on the morning line’s fourth choice in the field at 5-1.
Since the El Camino Real Derby’s inception in 1982, Baze holds the record for most wins by a jockey with eight. Hollendorfer holds the record for the most wins by a trainer with five, four of which were with the assistance of Baze. Interesting that Hollendorfer has chosen Baze to ride the longer odd of his dual entry. As owner of Lady of Fifty, should she win, Hollendorfer would stand to take home purse money as both owner and trainer.
Of course, Hollendorfer’s duo are not the only contenders in this diverse field. Jockey Julien Leparoux will be in town to ride Steve Asmussen’s Daddy Nose Best. The son of Scat Daddy will make his three-year-old debut and attempt a synthetic surface for the first time.
At odds of 9-2, Daddy Nose Best is the third choice on the line. In his last start, the ungraded Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita, he finished fifth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths as the 4-5 favorite. The winner of that race, Chips All In, ran in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes two weeks ago in which he was beaten nearly 18 lengths by winner I’ll Have Another.
Leparoux has now traveled to five race tracks to ride Daddy Nose Best for Asmussen, who won the El Camino Real Derby last year with Silver Medallion.
Owners Team Valor International and trainer Graham Motion who teamed to take Animal Kingdom to victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby will send out 7-2 Lucky Chappy. After two wins and a second at Italian racetracks, Lucky Chappy was sent to Keeneland Racecourse where he finished third in the Grade III Bourbon Stakes. He then went on to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in which he finished fourth to Wrote and earned a 100 Brisnet speed figure. In his last start, the ungraded Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park, he finished second to stablemate Howe Great, as the beaten favorite. East-coast jockey Alan Garcia comes in for the mount.
Rounding out the field are 6-1 Handsome Mike who may improve with the addition of blinkers, 10-1 Cahill Chrome, 12-1 Senor Rain, 20-1 Unveiled Heat, 20-1 Rockinarz Recruit, and 20-1 All Squared Away.
Post-time for the race is 7:15 p.m. EST. It can be seen on TVG and HRTV.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby