11/13/2012 12:55PM

Golden Gate: Gold Rush likely to match My Best Bet vs. Hollendorfer duo

Vassar Photography
Outside Nashville draws away in the Golden Nugget Stakes on Saturday. He will return in the Gold Rush on Dec. 8

After My Best Bet scored a better-than-looked win in a one-mile optional claiming race last Friday at Golden Gate Fields, punching his ticket to the $75,000 Gold Rush on Dec. 8, his trainer, Billy Morey, paid close attention to Saturday’s $55,100 Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields.

Morey came away very impressed by the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained duo of winner Outside Nashville and third-place finisher Zeewat, both of whom figure to challenge My Best Bet in the Gold Rush.

Outside Nashville went head-and-head with the favored stakes winner Strong Wind in the six-furlong Golden Nugget. Outside Nashville began to edge ahead turning for home, was a length in front at the eighth pole, and won by 4 1/2 lengths, with Strong Wind second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Zeewat.

His winning time of 1:09.54 earned him an 89 Beyer, which came on the heels of an 81 in his maiden victory here last month.

Zeewat, who won the Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa in August, earned a Beyer of 75. His Beyer Figure has improved in each of his four starts.

Hollendorfer says both his runners are “very likely” to start in the Gold Rush.

Outside Nashville came north after two maiden starts at Del Mar, finishing third in his debut and then last on Aug. 12 in a race that probably needs a red line drawn through it.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Hollendorfer said. “I have no explanation.”

As for Zeewat, Hollendorfer said the one-mile distance of the Gold Rush will suit him. “I really think that Zeewat will be a horse that wants to go a distance,” he said.

Morey, in the meantime, said he was happy with My Best Bet’s effort on Friday. He sat just off pacesetter Londinium in the one-mile Tapeta race, pulled closer at the quarter pole, stuck his head in front at the eighth pole, and won by a half-length in 1:40.62.

“We were expecting a good race, and he earned a hard-fought victory,” said Morey.

The time was slow and the Beyer came back only a 58, but the game way My Best Bet prevailed pleased Morey, especially given that jockey Russell Baze had to use the Best of the Rest ridgling a little more early on than he wanted.

Morey said he doesn’t think My Best Bet’s Beyer Figure is necessarily representative of his ability.

“Especially on Tapeta, the times for 2-year-olds routing is hard to put a finger on,” he said. “It seems much easier to run a fast time in a sprint.”

Morey knows that My Best Bet will have to improve off this race to win the Gold Rush, but he notes that his horse has won going a mile and is unbeaten on Tapeta, while Outside Nashville and Zeewat have only sprinted.

“It takes time to get fit and experience going long,” he said. “He’s 2 for 2 on Tapeta. He’s a good horse on the surface.”

Morey hopes that Baze will ride My Best Bet in the Gold Rush. Baze has ridden Zeewat in his three Northern California starts, including the Golden Nugget, and he rode Outside Nashville in his maiden win.

Baze ended the week with 11,769 career victories, and he could have had another win on Saturday had he chosen to ride Outside Nashville, who won the race under Dennis Carr.

“It was my choice,” said Baze after the race. “I worked both of them, and [Zeewat] really worked well. It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong.”