Saturday, February 18, 2012

El Camino Real Derby Racing Roundup

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has a record five wins in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Park and he’s looking for another victory today with the entries of Russian Greek as the 5-2 morning line favorite and Lady Of Fifty (5-1) in the 71st running of the Derby.

Russian Greek was my pick in the California Derby and I like him in today’s race too. In the California Derby, Russian Greek trailed at the back of the “herd” and made a nice run in the stretch to easily win by one length over Cahill Chrome (10-1) who is also entered in today’s race.

Russian Greek now has three wins and a fifth-place finish in four starts and I think he should continue to improve in the stretch out to 9-furlongs.

Russian Greek was sired by Giant’s Causeway and, as a 2-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was undefeated in three starts (all at 7-furlongs) winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes. As a 3-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.

Grindstone, the damsire of Russian Greek, won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) en route to victory in the 1996 Kentucky Derby (G1). Grindstone is the sire of the 2004 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Birdstone and he is the grandsire of the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Summer Bird.

Alydar, the sire of Russian Greek’s second dam, most likely would have been the 1978 Triple Crown winner if it had not been for the tenacious victor Affirmed whose duels with Alydar on the road to glory are some of the best in racing history.

The tail female line also has some nice influence. Sand Dollar, the dam of Russian Greek, was not much of a racer but second dam Train Robbery was a multiple stakes winner as well as the third dam, Track Robbery, who was a multiple graded stakes winner of races such as the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and Spinster Stakes (G1) with over $1 million in career earnings.

Lucky Chappy ships in from Florida for Team Valor International and trainer Graham Motion - the connections that won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom. However, from what I’ve read it appears that Lucky Chappy will later be shipped to compete in Dubai.

Lucky Chappy originally raced in Italy where he had two wins and a second-place finish. Since coming to America, Lucky Chappy has yet to win in graded stakes competition, however, he has a stamina-oriented pedigree and I look for him to be competitive in today’s race.

High Chaparral, the sire of Lucky Chappy, won the Epsom and Irish Derbies and was the 2002 and 2003 Eclipse Champion Male Turf Horse. Distant Relative, the damsire of Lucky Chappy, was a multiple Group winner in England, Ireland and France and was a Champion 3-year-old colt in Ireland. Germane, the dam of Lucky Chappy, was a Group 3 winner of the 7-furlong Rockfel Stakes in England and placed in several other Group races.

Cahill Chrome appears to be in peak form and a recent bullet work out on February 5 indicates that he could be ready to run another good race.

Honorable mention goes to Senor Rain, the third-place finisher in the California Derby, and Lady Of Fifty who look like they could hit the board and be a factor in the exotics.

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