The California Derby
1& 1/16th Miles on Tapeta
Purse: $100,000 for Three-Year-Olds
Analysis by Michael Patricks
With the arrival of 2018, so too is the arrival of fresh sophomore faces waging battle with turn of the calendar. Eight will head to the gate in a very competitive race on paper.
The top choice is # 1 Kylemore at 7/2. Kylemore ran a bang-up race in his first start in three months over this surface and narrowly missed to Mugaritz who sits right next door at 3/1. Expect Aaron Gryder to have him in an ideal stalking trip heading into the back stretch and set to pounce when the timing is right. Also, note that trainer Eoin Harty took down the Gold Rush at Golden Gate back in December, so he’s no stranger to shipping for the cash.
Second elect is the morning line favorite, #5 Choo Choo at 2/1. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Choo Choo has run four-straight turf races in southern California and competed most recently in the Eddie Logan, acquitting himself quite nicely. Expect the patient Juan Hernandez to take this colt back just a touch and try and get first run on the closers.
My third choice is # 7 East Rand at 8/1. Son of Australian-bred Denman (not to be confused with the voice of Del Mar—Trevor Denman) has a decent, six-race foundation scattered around the continent and ships up for trainer Jeff Mullins. If this race falls apart up front, and there’s a good chance that it could, he stands to benefit in the all-important third start off a layoff.
# 2 Mugaritz (3/1) and # 3 Intimidate (9/2) could simulate two bison butting heads in the mountains along the Golden Gate Fields back stretch. Each horse has done their best campaigning out on the front end and that could result into a toxic speed duel.
# 4 Generally Lucky at 20/1 stacks a little short on the “tale of the tape”. His top Beyer of 68 last time out is simply not good enough. # 6 Campaigner (12/1) steps out of state-bred races for the first time and also tries Tapeta for the first time; would be a surprise. # 8 Ministersdontparty (20/1) makes only his fourth start in his first trip going two turns and first time on synthetic. With the wide draw and plenty of speed to his inside, he looks like a hidden pace partner for the Miyadi co-trainee Campaigner, but his presence should do more favors for Kylemore and Choo Choo in my opinion.