El Camino Real Derby

By Dennis Miller

I have never thought much of the El Camino Real Derby as a prep for the Kentucky Derby in recent years.

The horses generally entered in the race don’t make a big impact on the year on the national level.

But this year’s version of the race at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, schedule for a 3:45 PM post, actually features two really good horses in Ann Arbor Eddie and Sheer Flattery.

Sheer Flattery is the morning line favorite at 7-5 and hails from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn. This is a horse I liked for a run for the roses, but now there are question marks.

The horse didn’t break maiden until his fourth start in late December at Santa Anita, but was showing improvement in each start. His first start this year was just two weeks back in the Robert Lewis, also at Santa Anita.

After a slow start he raced wide before finishing third. It wasn’t the worst run and it was his first start off a layoff, so I was willing to give him a pass. But now I have some concern that he is coming back in two weeks and running with Frank Alvarado in the irons instead of Mike Smith.

I still think he is the best horse in the race, but there some red flags.

Ann Arbor Eddie (2-1) ships up for the Doug O’Neill barn and looks very strong as well. Winner in three of four starts, the horse is coming off a score in the California Cup Derby in late January at Santa Anita.

Mario Gutierrez comes up to take the ride and has ridden the horse in all four starts.

The key here is that not all Southern California horses take to the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields.

Zakaroff (20-1), More Power to Him (6-1) and Colonel Samson (10-1) all have multiple starts – and some success – over the track and could be factors if the shippers have any issues.