The El Camino Real Derby
1 & 1/8th Miles on Tapeta
Post Time: 3:45 PT
Analysis by Michael Patricks
We’re back at it again this week with a complimentary preview of the El Camino Real Derby from Golden Gate Fields. Golden Gate Fields’ signature race goes as the seventh event on a nine-race program. The El Camino offers 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner and has attracted a field of nine runners, including six southern California jockeys and five southern California shippers. After taking a chalk bath in last week’s San Vicente, let’s try and get back on the beam this week with some more respectable prognostications.
1-Paved 2/1 ML– Quite uniue to see a filly ship in to meet the boys but she has the top Beyer to brag about and blew apart 10 rivals in her graduation run on the grass. Her connections paid $320,000 for her at auction and with Cozzene on the bottom side you have to think turf and synthetic is her game. Her dam has tossed five foals and all of them were multiple winners at the track. Van Dyke skipping the day at Santa Anita to follow her here speaks volumes; could be the real deal but there’s not much to be had in the value department.
2-Blended Citizen 4/1 ML– Unseen since December at Santa Anita when following Choo Choo to the finish line in the Eddie Logan. He’s got a license to improve with six weeks on the shelf and more air put into his tires; Doug O’Neill is also no stranger to shipping for the cash on the Nor Cal circuit and won this race in 2016 with Frank Conversation. Colt is a half-bro to 2017 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee and should appreciate every inch of the nine furlongs on Saturday; he’s an intriguing prospect to be sure.
3-Could Be the One 12/1 ML– He’s proven himself to be a terrific claim and gradually has gotten better while climbing the ladder for Jack Steiner. If you’re taking a swing with him, at least you know you’re getting a horse who likes the service and has no aversion to winning. The chief impediment here is that he’s stepping up greatly in class and is trying two turns for the first time. Furthermore, his pilot opts for the chalk next door. This is the dam’s first foal to race and he’s got quite a few obstacles to overcome if he’s to achieve victory; deck seems a bit stacked against him.
4-Choo Choo 9/5 ML– Cal Derby winner and probable chalk once again, he’s a full brother to Blueskiesnrainbows who took the Swaps (G2), San Pasqual (G2), and Native Diver (G3) on synthetic at now defunct Hollywood Park. He’s developed a nice stalking style in his recent tries and he should get a good spot in behind Calexman, Epical and Unlawful Act in the early stages. It will be on Hernandez to time his ride accordingly in order to get first run on the deep closers signed on; one of the ones but you won’t see me pulling a hamstring as I sprint up to the window to get down on his nose at 9/5.
5-City Plan 15/1 ML– He’s never been respected at the windows and Saturday will be no exception. His win two back was a good score but the 68 Beyer doesn’t class up to the rest of these. He was blown off the track in the Sham at Santa Anita but does sport four works in advance of his return to Golden Gate. City Plan is a half-bro to multiple stakes-winning Modern. Modern did most of his damage at two turns in small stakes races at Hastings Park. By Street Sense and out of an A.P. Indy mare, you know he’ll get the nine furlongs with no problem; he could hit the ticket with another step forward.
6-Calexman 20/1 ML– Chestnut was life and death on the front end in his graduation, outlasting Falcone and Fengari to the finish. Falcone has developed a reputation as a bit of a hanger and remains a maiden–Fengari was 5/2 subsequently against Epical and did next to nothing in that race, fading to tenth and last. Epical figures to give him fits out on the front end and if they teeter-totter for the lead on the front end they each figure to be sitting ducks for the come-from-behinders; he’s not for me.
7-Epical 10/1 ML– Appreciate that he popped at first asking and that his rider follows him to Golden Gate Fields, but this is a difficult assignment to be sure. If he steps forward off his 75 Beyer in his debut and can take to the Tapeta then he could be a sneaky player on Saturday. Plus, the Uncle Mo’s have been doing great things so far in this three-year-old crop. He has just the one work off his last race and the surface switch from the brisk Santa Anita lawn to the slower Tapeta can provide problems to many pacesetters. That said, he was resolute in victory on debut and he came home in race horse time; tab tote for more clues but he must avoid bouncing.
8-Unlawful Act 30/1 ML– He’s an undefeated 2-for-2 over the Tapeta and is being sent out by a savvy barn but it is difficult get around the fact he’s only been able to put a 60 up as his biggest number. His breeding is solid and the dam did toss Hey Byrn who captured the Holy Bull (G3) in 2008. It’s possible this guy just really hates dirt and is coming into his own as a gelding in concert with the transition in surfaces. The truth is he looks like he should be a much harder hitter at the first level allowance than in this spot. Zakaroff blew up the tote in this race last year but this would be an even bigger stunner if Unlawful Act were able to detonate the tote board in consecutive installments of the El Camino Real; siding against.
9-Mugaritz 10/1 ML– If you like him, then you probably fancy Choo Choo since they came home together in the Cal Derby with Choo Choo getting the jump on him that afternoon. Really interesting to see Gutierrez ride for Wong and yet O’Neill sends one up with Frey in the irons. He does draw wide but it’s a long enough run to the first turn that he should slot in and find a good stalking position out in the clear behind Calexman and Epical. Something tells me Gutierrez wouldn’t be getting on a plane to come ride this one if he wasn’t ready to go. Alvarado really wrestled this gelding back last time, basically forcing him to rate and take kick back. He should improve off that experience and his price doubles on Steve Martinelli’s morning line. Back to back bullets in the holster and he looks very formidable with his newfound confidence in tow; pick out of a real grab bag in what should be a driving finish to greet camera man Bill Vassar.