2023 San Francisco Mile & California Derby Recap

April 30th saw one of the best cards of the year at Golden Gate as it hosted two great races, the G3 2023 San Francisco Mile & California Derby.

This year’s edition of the San Francisco Mile was a competitive affair where all nine horses had a realistic shot of winning. Favorite for the contest was the Phil D’Amato trained Balnikhov who had failed to fire when last seen in the 2023 Frank E. Kilroe Mile

A winner of two of his last four starts, he showed all was well once again. Showing the heart of a lion, he landed the second graded race of his career in truly dramatic fashion – just staving off the fast-finishing Rio King on the line to land the spoils. 

A field of nine headed down to post for this season’s California Derby. The heavy favorite for the race was the Ed Moger trained Chase The Chaos. A winner of two of his last four races, this was a race many believed he had the ability to win. 

However, it wouldn’t be Chase The Chaos’s day. Instead, the glory fell to the Blaine Wright trained Prince Abu Dhabi. Unbeaten in his previous three starts at the track, he kept his impressive unbeaten record intact and landed the biggest prize of his career in a cozy fashion.

San Francisco Mile

Grade 3, 1 mile, Turf, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool: $150,000

  1. Balnikhov +180
  2. Rio King +1200
  3. II Bellator +1500

Winning time: 1:36.21

Nine horses headed down to post for a competitive renewal of the San Francisco Mile. The Irish bred Balnikhov was positioned as the favorite for the race and despite showing significant signs of promise earlier on in his career was looking to bounce back from a poor showing last time out.

Vying for favoritism in the pre-race build up was Lamplighter Jack, and it was the Librado Barocio trained horse that was happy to make the early running.

In what was a moderately run race, the order of the runners remained largely unchanged until the field hit the home turn.

With Lamplighter Jack dropping anchor, the race was suddenly wide open. Balnikhov and jockey Umberto Rispoli were happy sitting at the back of the field but effortlessly moved through the gears rounding the far turn.

San Francisco Mile Race Video

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Making up rapid ground from the back of the pack, Balnikhov surged to the front with just a furlong left to run.

Joining the Phil D’Amato trained runner at the head of affairs was the little fancied Rio King. As the two runners headed for the line, it was clear that the race was going to be settled by the very finest of margins. With the two crossing the line together, it was Balnikhov who got his head down when it mattered most.

The win was Balnikhov’s second graded success of his career. It remains to be seen if this is his level or whether D’Amato will aim his sights slightly higher as the season progresses.

2023 San Francisco Mile Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlaceShow
1Balnikhov$4.80$3.40$3.20
2Rio King $26.40$17.00
3II Bellator  $14.80

California Derby

1 mile 1/16, Dirt, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool: $100,000

  1. Prince Abu Dhabi +400
  2. Phosphorescence +800
  3. Egon +1200

Winning time: 1:44.91

Golden Gate’s Sunday card concluded with this year’s renewal of the California Derby. Nine horses headed down to post for this year’s race, with Chase the Chaos starting the race as the favorite.

In what was an even break, it was one of the outsiders of the field, Jam Session, who sped into an early lead.

Full of running, he careered up the back straight stringing the field out by ten lengths. At the back of the pack was Prince Abu Dhabi, under what looked to be a cool ride from jockey Alexander Chavez.

Sitting way off the lead, Chavez realized that he needed to be closer to the pace, and as the field hit the home turn made his move. With Jam Session quickly being swallowed by his rivals, this race was anybody’s to win.

California Derby Race Video

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Prince Abu Dhabi wins the 2023 California Derby #Horseracing #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horseracingtips #FYP #Sports #Horse

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With a furlong to run it was the Steve Sherman trained Harcyn who had poked his nose in front but his time in the lead would be short lived.

Clearly travelling well but starved of racing room, the breaks finally appeared for Prince Abu Dhabi when it mattered most, and he burst through to lead.

With the line fast approaching it looked like it was Prince Abu Dhabi’s race to lose. Finishing fast were the pair of Phosphorescence and Egon, but it was a case of too little too late as Prince Abu Dhabi held onto maintain his unbeaten record.

California Derby Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlaceShow
1Prince Abu Dhabi$8.00$4.20$3.60
2Phosphorescence $9.60$7.60
3Egon  $9.80

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