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Clover Hunter Wins Golden Gate

January 19, 1998

ALBANY, Calif. (AP) _ Clover Hunter sped over a sloppy track and drew away in the stretch to win Sunday’s $200,000 Golden Gate Derby, taking a major step toward a Triple Crown campaign.

Ridden by Russell Baze, the 3-year-old Clover Hunter lost his stride momentarily when some mud flew up in his face on the far turn but the colt quickly recovered and surged to the front, beating runnerup Mantles Star by 6 1-2 lengths. Allen’s Oop finished third.

Real Quiet, the even-money favorite, finished last in the eight-horse field entered in the race at Golden Gate Fields.

Clover Hunter, who covered the 1 1-16 miles in 1:43 1-5, returned $9, $4 and $2.80. Mantles Star paid $3.80 and $3 and Allen’s Oop paid $4.80 to show.

Nominated for the Triple Crown races two days ago, Clover Hunter came away with the $120,000 first prize for owners Sidney Craig and Ted Aroney and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who exercised an option to buy 25 percent of the horse several days before the race.

The victory was the second straight for Clover Hunter, who scored a 12-length win in an allowance race also run in rainy, sloppy conditions at Golden Gate Fields last month.

``If you know a horse likes the track, you’re always happy to see it come up his way,″ Hollendorfer said. ``I think the horse is good on a fast track, but I know he loves the slop.″

That wasn’t the case with Real Quiet, who was favored on the strength of his win in the Grade I Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 9.

``When the doors opened, he didn’t even want to leave there,″ said Real Quiet’s jockey, Kent Desormeaux. ``He did not care for splashing in the mud.″

Trainer Bob Baffert, whose Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, said he misjudged Real Quiet’s ability to handle an off track.

``By the first turn, I knew we were dead,″ Baffert said. ``I’m mad at myself for bringing him (from Los Angeles) but I thought it was worth a shot.″

Clover Hunter also had to deal with some problems caused by the conditions when he was startled by some globs of mud to his face but the colt solved that by going to the front.

``When I got him outside and gave him his head at the three-eighths, he ducked to the inside,″ Baze said. ``I got him back outside and he took off. When I looked back in the stretch, I couldn’t believe nobody was near me. I said, `Oh, yes! Just hold him together.′ ″

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