Kentucky Derby contender Russian Greek wins California Derby

In an effort reminiscent  of Silky Sullivan, (see Life magazine article from May, 1958 on our website about  Silky Sullivan at ) favored Russian Greek rallied from last to first  to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby prep race the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on January 14.

Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for owner Olympia Star, Greek Russian Greek started his march to the next Kentucky Derby prep race at Golden Gate Fields, the Camino Real Derby on February 18.  Russian Greek continued his same come from behind style that he showed when he won the Gold  Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on December 10.

Russian Greek defeated  six other 3 year olds who were hoping this race would punch a 2012 Kentucky  Derby ticket for them.  Cahill Chrome  finished second, with Senor Rain to show.

“This horse will run in  the El Camino Real Derby for sure,” Hollendorfer said.  This was the 5th time that trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has won the California Derby.

Jockey Aaron Gryder allowed Russian Greek to fall back early and then lag three to four lengths behind the pack. Gryder said he was confident on Russian Greek throughout  the running. “At the five-eighths pole he was on a beautiful stride and I felt good,” he said. “He eased up to them and when I got him in the clear at the top of the stretch he extended. I was confident he’d get there because it felt like he was getting stronger and stronger.”

Russian Greek, who began his career with a maiden special weight victory on
dirt at Santa Rosa last summer, won for the third time in four starts and  nearly doubled his earnings to $121,700 with this California Derby win.

“I think this horse is developing into a pretty nice colt,” said Hollendorfer. “He had little things that bothered him after his first race so I gave him some time off.”

While in the Kentucky Derby, all colts carry 126 pounds (fillies carry 121  pounds), there were weight assignments in the California Derby (see our blog with weights for the race at ).  Four horses carried 116 pounds while Russian Greek carried the high weight of 122 pounds.  Second place finisher Cahill Chrome carried 119 pounds.  Russian Greek could be a force to reckon with during the 2012 Kentucky Derby prep races. His pedigree and impressive win in the California Derby may give his connections reasons to have dreams of the  2012 Kentucky Derby.