‘Focused’ Tree Of Life Set For California Derby

‘Focused’ Tree Of Life Set For California Derby

     Trainer Craig Dollase is hoping to see a new horse Saturday when Tree of Life competes in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

     Actually, Dollase will be seeing a new gelding when Tree of Life faces six opponents in the 1 1/16-mile race for newly turned 3-year-olds.  

     “We gelded him about 10 days after his last race,” said Dollase.

     Tree of Life’s last race was the Grade 3 Generous Stakes, a one-mile turf contest run at Hollywood Park on Nov. 24.  Tree of Life put himself and his jockey in tight quarters when he pulled hard in the early stages of the race and consequently steadied going into the first turn.

    Tree of Life went on to finish fifth in the Generous and was only beaten three lengths by winner Den’s Legacy.  

     “He’s a little more focused now,” said Dollase when asked how Tree of Life has responded to what some trainers and handicappers call “the ultimate equipment change.”  “Hopefully he’s turned the corner.  We’re hoping he has a new lease on life and are looking forward to seeing how he runs Saturday.”

     Tree of Life has two wins in four starts, the victories coming in his first two outings.   Despite breaking last in a field of 10, Tree of Life won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden allowance race at Del Mar on Aug. 18.  In his second start, Tree of Life scored a game victory in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile, a 6 1/2-furlong race at Fairplex Park.   

     Dollase then sent Tree of Life to Kentucky, where he finished 10th (beaten less than five lengths by winner Joha) in the Grade 1 $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.  Tree of Life broke from post 12 in the Dixiana and endured a wide journey in the 1 1/16-mile feature.  He did finish a nose in front of He’s Had Enough, who came back to run second (beaten a head) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.

     Dollase has chosen Golden Gate Fields-based Dennis Carr to ride Tree of Life in the California Derby.  Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Tree of Life will break from post position five and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line.

     The California Derby is the fourth race on a nine-race program and will be run at approximately 2:18 p.m.  First post is 12:45 p.m.  Gates at Golden Gate Fields open at
10 a.m. and fans attending the track with a paid admission will receive a free California Derby umbrella.

    Alvarado Has Riding Triple  --  Jockey Frank Alvarado rode three winners Friday at Golden Gate Fields.  Alvarado won the first race with Just After Sunset ($22.00), the fourth with Tribal Tribute ($5.60), and the seventh with Outdoorsman Gene ($12.40).

     Golden Gate Fields is a Stronach Group company, North America's leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator.  The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness.  The company is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its Adena Springs operation.  The company owns and operates AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology, and XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service.  The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horseracing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America's premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.