Russian Greek, who overcame a stumble at the start to win the Gold Rush Stakes last month, is the 122-pound high weight for his return to Golden Gate Fields in the $100,000 California Derby Jan. 14.
Seven 3-year-olds are entered in the Cal Derby, which is contested at 1 1/16 miles on Golden Gate's Tapeta racing surface. The race is the eighth on the card with a 4:22 p.m. probable post.
Russian Greek, who drew post 6, will have Aaron Gryder aboard for the first time.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Russian Greek is a Kentucky-bred son of Giant's Causeway that has won two of his three starts for owner Olympia Star, who paid $100,000 for him. After breaking his maiden in his debut at Santa Rosa last summer, Russian Greek returned to action with a fifth-place finish in the Golden Gate's Golden Nugget Stakes at six furlongs in November.
He won the one mile Gold Rush at odds of 7-1 in his two-turn debut Dec. 10. Russian Greek surged at the rail to make up five lengths in the final furlong, winning by a neck over Marshal Marini, who will not run in the Cal Derby.
Hollendorfer also entered Reconstruction, a son of Broken Vow that broke his maiden in his third start Dec. 11 at Golden Gate.
Two others are coming out of the Gold Rush, third-place finisher Blacky the Bull, who was defeated by 1 1/2 lengths, and Cahill Chrome, who was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth.
Hodge, last seen running third in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 24 for trainer Michael Machowsky, and Senor Rain, scratched from the the Jan. 7 Sham Stakes (gr. III) by trainer Peter Miller, invade from Southern California.
Russell Baze, a five-time winner of the Cal Derby, has the mount on Hodge, a Florida-bred son of City Place .
Senor Rain ran third in the 1 1/16-mile Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park Nov. 12 and also owns runner-up finishes in two other stakes – the Afflerbaugh at Fairplex Park and the Indiana Futurity at Hoosier Park. He will race without blinkers.
The California Derby is a steppingstone race to the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III), which will be run Feb. 18 at Golden Gate Fields.
$100,000 California Derby (Race 8, 4:22 p.m.), 3 YOs, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Senor Rain (IN), K Krigger, 116, P Miller
2. Hodge (FL), R A Baze, 116, M Machowsky
3. Unveiled Heat (CA), A Cedillo, 116, S Specht
4. Cahill Chrome (CA), J J Hernandez, 119, R W Hansen
5. Blacky the Bull (KY), K John, 116, J Bonde
6. Russian Greek (KY), A T Gryder, 122, J Hollendorfer
7. Reconstruction (KY), F T Alvarado, 116, J Hollendorfer
Blinkers Off: Senor Rain