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Zeewat Overcomes Obstacles To Win California Derby
He was cut off at the start and hung out wide on the far turn but that wasn’t enough to keep favored Zeewat from winning the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields Saturday.
Zeewat, ridden by Russell Baze, came from fourth in a field of seven to win the
1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds by a half-length over pacesetter Wildcat Moon, the horse that turned right in front of him leaving the starting gate. Tree of Life finished third.
Zeewat is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who watched the California Derby via simulcast from Santa Anita, where he sent out Tribal Jewel to a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 $150,000 San Fernando Stakes. Hollendorfer was impressed with Zeewat, a colt he owns in partnership with George Todardo.
“I thought he proved himself to be a pretty good horse today,” said Hollendorfer. “He got pinched back at the start but the horse willingly ran up in between horses and then was laying fourth. And then when Russell made his run, he had to go wide. I was pleased with the way the horse handled himself.”
Zeewat earned his fourth win in six career starts and his second consecutive stakes victory. Winner of the Gold Rush Stakes on Dec. 8, Zeewat won the California Derby in 1:46.50 and paid $3.80 after being bet down to 4-5.
Baze, who has ridden Zeewat to all four of his victories, said the Pennsylvania-bred colt is a cool customer.
“He’s real calm,” said Baze. “When (Wildcat Moon) made a left turn, I checked my horse a little bit. He had to overcome the slow start and was wide on the second turn. I was pretty impressed with the way he finished up today. He waits for you to tell him what to do, and when you do, he does it.”
Hollendorfer said the next assignment for Zeewat, a Triple Crown nominee, will be the Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 16 at Golden Gate Fields. An official Kentucky Derby prep race, the El Camino Real Derby is a 1 1/8-mile contest.
“I think he’ll go further,” responded Baze when asked how Zeewat will handle the extra distance of the El Camino Real Derby. “There’s no doubt in my mind. He’s got a nice way of moving. I’ve always liked the way he moves so efficiently over the ground.”
Zeewat, a chestnut son of Harlan’s Holiday who cost $50,000 as a yearling, earned $60,000 for the California Derby victory and has made $177,700 in his six races.
Racing continues at Golden Gate Fields Sunday. Post time is 12:45 p.m. and the track is offering $1 general parking, $1 general admission, $1 hot dogs, $1 beers, and