Russian Greek overcame a stumbling start to capture the $75,260 Gold Rush Stakes with a late surge by a neck in a 7-1 surprise at Golden Gate Fields Dec. 10 (VIDEO).
Russian Greek, ridden by Inoel Beato, rallied from last to win the one-mile feature for 2-year-olds over Marshal Marini, who appeared to be home free after opening up a 2 1/2-length lead in midstretch. Blacky the Bull, the pacesetter, finished third.
Lucky Culprit, the 7-to-5 favorite in the field of six, was pulled up by jockey Russell Baze after being bumped hard on the first turn.
“The problem was (Cahill Chrome) knocked him sideways on the turn and he went off behind,” said Baze.
William E. Morey trains Lucky Culprit and reported his gelding sustained a serious injury.
“He is lame in his left hind,” said Morey. “The sheath that connects to the Achilles tendon was torn away, leaving the tendon loose. His prognosis for racing again is very poor. It’s not life-threatening but it is career-threatening. There are a million ways for a horse to get hurt but you don’t think of this one.”
Beato guided Russian Greek to the rail for his winning stretch move, making a winner of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. A couple of hours later, Hollendorfer took the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) with 14-1 shot Killer Graces at Hollywood Park.
“I didn’t want to go outside so I took a chance on going inside,” said Beato. “I rode (Marshal Marini) at Fresno and knew he liked to drift out. It worked out.”
Russian Greek paid $16.60, $6.60, $5.40 after recording his second victory in three starts. He was timed in 1:39.18.
Runner-up Marshal Marini, ridden by Abel Cedillo, paid $3.60 and $3.40 and completed a $40 exacta. Blacky the Bull, with Kevin Krigger aboard, returned $4 to show in his first start since finishing a troubled eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
Blacky the Bull carved early fractions of :23.76, :47.39, and 1:12.84 while engaged in a duel for the lead with Squid, who wound up last behind Cahill Chrome.
A colt by Giant's Causeway out of the Grindstone mare Sand Dollar, Russian Greek is owned by Olympia Star and was bred by Overbrook Farm. He sold for $100,000 in the 2009 Keeneland November sale.
Hollendorfer watched the Gold Rush on a television monitor at Hollywood Park.
“I saw the horse closing and he got lucky to get through on the rail, that’s for sure,” said Hollendorfer. “He ran very well and is bred very well. We thought when we got him stretched out (in distance) he’d be better. I think we’ll probably go on to the California Derby.”
The $100,000 California Derby is a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that will be run Saturday, Jan. 14, at Golden Gate Fields.