Derby Preps Primer: El Camino Real Derby

By Margaret Ransom

Golden Gates Fields – Photo Courtesy of Goldengatefields.com

Since first contested in 1982, the El Camino Real Derby has endured its share of challenges, but it has still managed to remain a strong West Coast-based prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1). The race was first contested at Bay Meadows, and was then moved to Golden Gate Fields for the 2009 running after the former racetrack was shuttered in 2008. In the years since then the El Camino Real Derby has undergone surface changes from being contested over a dirt surface to a synthetic one and then a downgrade from graded status, yet it still stands as one of the California races to offer points on the Road to the Derby challenge (10-4-2-1) and also draws top horses whose connections want to wear the blanket of roses in 2 ½ months.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally sent out the first El Camino Real Derby winner, Cassaleria, who was 13th in the 1982 Kentucky Derby before winning the Longacres Derby (G3) later that summer. Since then, some of the more notable names to win the nine-furlong event include 1985 Preakness Stakes (GI) winner Tank’s Prospect, 1986 Preakness winner and champion Snow Chief, millionaire Ruhlmann, 1982 Derby runner-up Casual Lies, and 1994 Preakness and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tabasco Cat. A year ago Anothertwistafate won this race before picking up a second in the Sunland Park Derby (G3), but he didn’t make the Derby cut despite winning the Lexington Stakes (G2) at Keeneland and hasn’t been seen since his disappointing 10th-place finish in the Preakness Stakes last year.

Now retired Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, still North America’s winningest jockey of all time with 12,842 victories, holds the record for riding the most winners of this race with nine and fellow Hall of Fame Jerry Hollendorfer, who remains banned from participating at all Stronach Group properties, has saddled a record six winners throughout his career.

The El Camino Real Derby is also one of just two Kentucky Derby prep races in North America contested over a synthetic surface, the other being the Jack Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park in mid-March.

This year the El Camino Real Derby has been set as the 7th and will leave the gate at 3:45 p.m. PT. Following is the field of ten, with riders, trainers, morning line and pedigree:

El Camino Real Derby
PP Horse Jockey Trainer MLO Pedigree
1 Indian Peak J. Hernandez Q. Howey 7-2 Comic Strip–Ms. Booty, by Roar
2 Praise Loudly S. Amador D. Franko 50-1 Boisterous–Made to Worship, by Ministers Wild Cat
3 American Farmer K. Desormeaux S. Sherman 15-1 Bluegrass Cat–Farmers Wife, by Quiet American
4 Wine and Whisky C. Herrera F. Rondan 15-1 Fullbridled–Satin Dolly, by Tabasco Cat
5 Mysterious Stones W. Antongeorgi S. Sherman 15-1 Gemologist–Mystic Voyage, by Good Journey
6 Final Final K. Krigger B. McLean 15-1 Daredevil—Career Fair, by Storm Cat
7 Sacred Rider F. Alvarado S. Specht 9-2 Lucky Pulpit—Lady Railrider, by Ride the Rails
8 Ajourneytofreedom R. Gonzalez B. Wright 12-1 Hard Spun—Imprecation, by First Defence
9 Azul Coast R. Bejarano B. Baffert 2-1 Sky Treasure, by Sky Mesa
10 Czechmight J. Valdivia R. Baltas 6-1 Street Sense—Czechers, by Indian Charlie
11 The Stiff J. Couton M. McCarthy 8-1 Danza—Betterlethergo, by Hold Me Back
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