By Tom Quigley
$100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields
Race 7 (Saturday, February 15, 2020: 6:45 p.m./ET; 3:45 p.m./PT)
Mile and an eighth on Tapeta (three-year-olds)
Ten Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points plus a free Preakness (G1) berth (for Triple Crown nominated horses) is up for grabs in Saturday’s feature race at Golden Gate Fields: the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby. Eleven runners are entered to compete in the mile-and-an-eighth contest, which has seen runners such as CHARISMATIC, TABASCO CAT and SNOW CHIEF compete throughout its 38-year existence:
#1 INDIAN PEAK is a local that has always been well regarded. A December 27 allowance victory over this track, defeating #6 FINAL FINAL and #7 SACRED RIDER, was visually super impressive. Most recently, he suffered a traffic filled trip in an effort that one can be forgiving of. A recent pair of blazing fast workouts indicates he is still feeling good and if he can work out a trouble-free trip and duplicate his effort two-back, he has a big chance.
#2 PRAISE LOUDLY comes off a pair of in-the-money finishes against starter allowance company and takes a significant step up in class to this stakes level. Will be longest shot in the field.
#3 AMERICAN FARMER is a full sibling to Golden Gate stakes winner BLUE DIVA. Son of BLUEGRASS CAT made his first career trip to the winner’s circle after a maiden special weight score last time out and now must face proven winners for the first time. Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux rides, which is an added positive, but he rides a colt who is at a disadvantage from a class perspective. Siding with others.
#4 WINE AND WHISKY was rank with blinkers in his first try routing on December 27th and faded down the lane, losing by a half dozen lengths to #1 INDIAN PEAK. He returned to the races without blinkers in his most recent afternoon appearance, settled down nicely in the early stages and displayed a powerful late kick in the end. Although he wound up finishing a neck behind the winner (#11 THE STIFF), he ran a very credible race.
#5 MYSTERIOUS STONES set the pace in a January 19 allowance affair and faded late, finishing ¾ of a length behind #11 THE STIFF and #4 WINE AND WHISKY. Now he must turn the tables on those two rivals while also traveling an extra sixteenth of a mile. Won’t be an easy task.
#6 FINAL FINAL finished as the runner up behind #1 INDIAN PEAK two races ago but regressed in his most recent start, failing to produce a bid while running fifth behind #11 THE STIFF, #4 WINE AND WHISKY and #5 MYSTERIOUS STONES. He’ll need to run a career best race to hit the board.
#7 SACRED RIDER has the most racing experience of any runner in the field. Most recently, the son of stakes winner and stakes producing broodmare LADY RAILRIDER finished a neck behind the winner of the California Cup Derby on dirt at Santa Anita. That’s the good news. But the bad news is he finished third to #1 INDIAN PEAK in the aforementioned December 27 allowance event. An exotics placing may be his ceiling.
#8 AJOURNEYTOFREEDOM is the half-brother to 2019 El Camino Real Derby winner ANOTHERTWISTAFATE. After breaking his maiden going two turns on December 14, ‘FREEDOM returned one month later as the even money favorite and finished fourth behind three rivals (#11 THE STIFF, #4 WINE AND WHISKY and #5 MYSTERIOUS STONES) that enter back in this spot. There were no visible excuses in his last start, so improvement is needed for him to be a factor in this race.
#9 AZUL COAST is a lightly raced colt that ships north for trainer Bob Baffert, making him an instant contender. Son of SUPER SAVER broke his maiden at first asking going a route of ground at Los Al and returned to run second, beaten over seven lengths, by top three-year-old and stablemate AUTHENTIC in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Likely post time favorite.
#10 CZECHMIGHT makes his first start for the Richard Baltas barn after breaking his maiden at Keeneland over the fall. Coming off a four-month vacation, his workouts leading up to this run include a pair of bullet drills. Baltas has proven time and time again that he can get horses cranked up and ready to go off of 180+ day layoffs, winning at a 17% clip in this scenario. Another Southern California shipper that looks like a legit contender.
#11 THE STIFF sat midpack before out finishing three other horses in a driving finish on January 19. He tagged the runner up finisher (#4 WINE AND WHISKY) late in the race and finished like a colt that should have no issue with added distance. Note his trainer, Michael McCarthy, is three-for-four this meet when shipping up horses from his Santa Anita barn to Golden Gate. Possibility.
1. #1 INDIAN PEAK - Win two-back over this track was outstanding.
2. #9 AZUL COAST - Logical selection.
3. #10 CZECHMIGHT - Connections believe he will like turf and synthetic.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #4 WINE AND WHISKY - May outrun odds.
I’ll make a straight win bet on my top choice.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget) $50 Win: #1 INDIAN PEAK
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