02/16/2012 1:38PM

Golden Gate Fields: Shippers offer stern test for Hollendorfer pair in El Camino Real Derby

Shigeki Kikkawa
Daddy Nose Best will try to transfer his turf form to the Tapeta in Saturday’s Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.

This year’s edition of the El Camino Real Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields pits the classy shippers Daddy Nose Best and Lucky Chappy against the local Jerry Hollendorfer-trained pair of Russian Greek and the filly Lady of Fifty.

Russian Greek, who won the California Derby and the Gold Rush, is the morning-line favorite for the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real, which is run at 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta. But Daddy Nose Best and Lucky Chappy have faced some of the best of their generation, and their connections have sent them to Golden Gate Fields to pick up some graded stakes cash, which will be needed if the Kentucky Derby overfills.

Daddy Nose Best is trained by Steve Asmussen, who won last year’s El Camino with Silver Medallion. He is based at Santa Anita, but has raced there only once, finishing fifth in the Eddie Logan on the turf Dec. 31, which was his last start.

The late-running Daddy Nose Best has made the last six of his eight starts on turf, having won a Churchill Downs allowance race in November and finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill and third in the Grade 3 Summer at Woodbine before that. Owned by Bob and Cathy Zollars, Daddy Nose Best will have Julien Leparoux aboard Saturday.

Lucky Chappy will be the first horse last year’s Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion has ever started at Golden Gate Fields. Lucky Chappy flies across country from Florida for his second start of 2012, after running second in the Kitten’s Joy on the turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 21.

Like Daddy Nose Best, Lucky Chappy is a late-runner, and he has never raced on anything but turf. He capped his 2-year-old season with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, finishing a neck ahead of Daddy Nose Best. In his only other U.S. start, Lucky Chappy ran third in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. Lucky Chappy came to the United States for owner Team Valor after winning a stakes in Italy, where he made his first three starts. Alan Garcia will ride Saturday.

Lady of Fifty swept Golden Gate’s series of races for her division and is coming off a wire-to-wire victory in the California Oaks. She is only the third filly to compete in the race and would be the first to win it.

Both Hollendorfer and jockey Russell Baze say that Lady of Fifty doesn’t need the lead to win, and that theory could be tested. Lady of Fifty has the outside No. 10 post.

Her stablemate Russian Greek will be far back early and poised to take advantage, if Lady of Fifty, Rockinarz Recruit, and the Doug O’Neill-trained Handsome Mike go too fast early.

Aaron Gryder knows he’ll be far back early aboard Russian Greek.

“He’s a very athletic horse, but it takes him a while to get going, so you don’t want to get stopped,” Gryder said. “I’ll ride him with confidence, but I have to find the ones in front of him that are moving forward to follow.”

Handsome Mike has faced some of the best in his division in Southern California. He comes off a fourth last month behind Out of Bounds in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita, set the pace and finished seventh in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December, and ran second in the Grade 3 Generous on the Hollywood turf in November.

El Camino Real Derby (G3), Post Time: 4:43 ET Saturday

Purse: $200,000; 1 1/8 miles





ML Odds


Daddy Nose Best

S. Amussen

J. Leparoux



Senor Rain

P. Miller

K. Krigger



Cahill Chrome

R. Hansen

J. Hernandez



Russian Greek

J. Hollendorfer

A. Gryder



Unveiled Heat

S. Specht

F. Alvarado



Lucky Chappy (IRE)

H. Motion

A. Garcia



Handsome Mike

D. O'Neill

C. Nakatani



Rockinarz Recruit

L. Mason

A. Cedillo



All Squared Away

P. Miller

K. John



Lady of Fifty

J. Hollendorfer

R. Baze