Odds-on favorite Zeewat rallied down the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The 1 1/16-mile race is a prep for next month's 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby.
Zeewat, the 9-10 favorite versus six rivals, broke from post 3 with Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze riding. The colt is trained and co-owned by Hall of Fame member Jerry Hollendorfer who was going after his sixth victory in the Cal Derby.
The favorite was racing on the outside in fourth through the early going as Wildcat Moon set the pace. Wildcat Moon had broken in sharply at the start under jockey Kyle Frey.
Around the final turn Wildcat Moon still had the lead with Zeewat moving up on the outside. At the top of the stretch, Zeewat had a short lead over Wildcat Moon and Will True Up.
Zeewat, who is based at Golden Gate, extended his lead with a furlong to go and posted a half-length victory over Wildcat Moon. Tree of Life, the 2-1 second pick, finished third followed by Butterfly Soul, Will True Up, Condiment and My Best Bet.
Zeewat went the 1 1/16-miles in 1:46.50 on Golden Gate's synthetic main track.
Zeewat added $60,000 to his earnings and registered his fourth victory in six starts. The colt has banked $177,700.
The colt won the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes by 3 1/4-lengths on Dec. 8 to finish off his 2-year-old season. He earlier won the Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa during the summer. Zeewat was fourth to Merit Man in the Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita in October and third in Golden Gate's Golden Nugget in November.
Hollendorfer has saddled a record five El Camino Real Derby winners and won last year's Cal Derby with Russian Greek.
Zeewat paid $3.80, $2.80 and $2.40. Wildcat Moon returned $8.80 and $4.40, and Tree of Life paid $2.60 to show.