Hodge Is Morning-Line Favorite In $100,000 California Derby

Hodge Is Morning-Line Favorite In $100,000 California Derby

     Hodge, who ran third at odds of 21-to-1 in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes in his last start, will be a much shorter price on the tote board Saturday when he competes in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

     Hodge is the 9-to-5 morning-line favorite in the California Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that serves as a springboard to Northern California’s most important Triple Crown prep – the Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, which will be run Feb. 18.

     Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze will ride Hodge in the California Derby for Southern California-based trainer Michael Machowsky.  Hodge ran a big race in the Hollywood Prevue as he forced the pace through most of the seven-furlong contest at Hollywood Park and was beaten less than two lengths by the winner, So Brilliant.

     Hodge broke his maiden in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden allowance dash at Santa Anita prior to the Nov. 24 Hollywood Preview and will be making his first start around two turns in the California Derby.  Hodge is a Florida-bred son of City Place.

     Russian Greek, who overcame a stumbling start to win the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 10, is the second choice on the California Derby morning line at 5-to-2.  A Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway, Russian Greek has two wins in three starts for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

     The third choice on the line at 4-to-1 is Senor Rain, who finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 12.  Senor Rain has finished in the money in five of his seven starts for trainer Peter Miller.

     Blacky the Bull, who ran third in the Gold Rush after finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs, is 6-to-1 in the California Derby.  Reconstruction, who is coming off a victory in a six-furlong maiden allowance race at Golden Gate Fields, is 8-to-1.  

     Completing the California Derby field are 10-to-1 Cahill Chrome, who finished fourth in the Gold Rush, and 12-to-1 Unveiled Heat, who broke his maiden in a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 4.

    Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and fans attending the track will receive a free Golden Gate Fields hooded sweatshirt.  First post is 12:45 p.m. and post time for the California Derby, the eighth race on the nine-race program, is 4:22 p.m.

     Dave’s Pacemaker Sets Track Record  --  The 6-year-old gelding Dave’s Pacemaker set a track record Friday when he ran 5 1/2 furlongs on Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta racing surface in 1:02.87 while winning the eighth race by a head over Compromising Txt.

     Dave’s Pacemaker, trained by Steve Sherman and ridden by Russell Baze, eclipsed the previous record of 1:02.92 set by the 3-year-old A K Racer on Dec. 4, 2009.  Dave’s Pacemaker was the 8-to-5 favorite in the $5,000 claiming race and paid $5.20 after recording his ninth win in 19 career starts.