01/17/2015 8:13PM

Cross the Line wins 100th running of California Derby

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Recent maiden winner Cross the Line ($11.40) captured the 100th running of the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, giving trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his fourth straight win in the race.

Cross the Line was second and third in a pair of sprints to start his career, then graduated in front-running style when stretched out to a mile Dec. 26.

Making his debut against winners, he was content to sit behind Rye Patch and Midnight Destiny, who surged to the front early in the 1 1/16-mile Derby. Cross the Line, ridden by Juan Hernandez, let the two leaders duel as he sat five lengths off the pace down the backstretch.

He began to move up on the turn and blew past the two tiring leaders turning for home. By the eighth pole, the outcome never was in doubt.

The favored Soul Driver chased Cross the Line home and finished second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, a neck in front of Cross the Line stablemate Stand and Salute, who won the Gold Rush in his previous start. The winning time was 1:44.79.

Hernandez, who has ridden Cross the Line to his two victories, said, “He surprised me last time and today, too. Last time, he broke really strong and was strong on the bit and was like running. Today, he was better. When I took a little hold to get him to stay behind those horses, he was like a professional horse. He was waiting.”

Hernandez said when he asked the Line of David colt to move on the backstretch and again at the three-eighths pole, he responded.

“He ran like a professional,” Hernandez said. “I was just waiting to the stretch, and when I asked him, he responded really well. He finished strong.”

A $55,000 yearling purchase for Hollendorfer, George Todaro, Live Your Dream Racing Stable, Sigband, et. al., Cross the Line earned $60,000 to improve his career earnings to $83,930.

Hollendorfer won the previous four runnings with Russian Greek, Zeewat, and Exit Stage Left. His trainees, Stalk the Wildcat, Stand and Salute, and Cross the Line have won Golden Gate’s three preps for the Feb. 14 $200,000 Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.