At the paddock Photo by Paul Duclos

Post Valentine Day’s Race at Golden Gate Fields

What’s a guy to do to get over the post-Valentine Day’s blues?

Take it to the Track.

You might even get lucky.

A field of eleven 3-year-olds has been assembled to compete in this Saturday’s $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The El Camino Real Derby, a one mile and one-furlong event on the Tapeta main track, offers 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner and a free berth into the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 16. In order for the latter incentive to be granted to the El Camino Real Derby winner, he must be nominated to the 2020 Triple Crown series.

Last year, trainer Bob Baffert saddled Grade 3 winner Kingly to a second place finish in the El Camino Real Derby. In the 2020 edition, Baffert is represented by Azul Coast, a son of Super Saver coming off a runner up performance in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita last month. The winner of the Sham, Authentic, is considered one of the top 3-year-olds on the West Coast for Baffert. Azul Coast makes his third lifetime start in the El Camino Real Derby and will be ridden by Southern California jockey Rafael Bejarano.  

Czechmight is another Southern California shipper that is likely to attract interest in the wagering, say savvy handicappers.

Purchased for $190,000 by his current connections after a maiden special weight win at Keeneland last October, the son of Street Sense makes his 3-year-old debut and first career start for the Richard Baltas barn. Leading up to the El Camino Real Derby, Czechmight has posted a series of sharp workouts at Santa Anita, including a bullet drill on the morning of February 8. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. flies up to ride for Team Baltas.

In 2019, Anothertwistafate wowed racing fans with an eye-popping, eight-length runaway win in the El Camino Real Derby for trainer Blaine Wright and owner Peter Redekop. This year, Wright and Redekop send out the little brother to Anothertwistafate, Ajourneytofreedom. He, like Anothertwistafate, is out of the First Defence mare Imprecation and was purchased for $180,000 as a 2-year-old in training. In his most recent afternoon apperance, Ajourneytofreedom went off favored in a January 19 allowance race and finished fourth, only beaten by about a length.

In fact, the top five finishers from the aforementioned January 19 affair enter back into the El Camino Real Derby. The Stiff, trained by Southern California conditioner Michael McCarthy, won the mile and one-sixteenth contest by a head and draws the outside post position for the El Camino Real Derby. Wine and Whisky, who put up a gallant showing when finishing a neck off The Stiff, will break from post position 4. Third place finisher Mysterious Stones is one of two El Camino Real Derby contenders campaigned by trainer Steve Sherman while the Bill McLean conditioned Final Final also takes a stab at a graded stakes placing after hitting the wire behind the top four finishers in last month’s allowance prep.

The well-bred Sacred Rider, out of stakes winning race mare and producer Lady Railrider, finished an admirable second in the California Cup Derby for California-bred 3-year-olds on dirt at Santa Anita. Last December, Sacred Rider completed the exacta in the locally-run Gold Rush Stakes, indicating he is effective and versatile on multiple surfaces. Frank Alvarado teams up with trainer Steve Specht, who tuned up Zakaroff to a 48-1 shocker in the 2017 El Camino Real Derby.

Impressive December allowance winner Indian Peak suffered a traffic-filled trip in the California Cup Derby and returns to the bayside oval in search of a graded stakes win. The highly-regarded California-bred colt has dazzled in the mornings with a pair of lightning quick five-furlong bullet workouts and impressed racegoers two starts ago with an eye-catching victory. Leading Golden Gate jockey Juan Hernandez has the call for trainer Quinn Howey.

Recent maiden winner American Farmer is the second Steve Sherman entrant in the race, having most recently defeated a maiden special weight group on January 26. American Farmer is a full brother to Blue Diva, winner of the Miss America Stakes in December. Longshot Praise Loudly rounds out the field. The chestnut gelding was last seen hitting the board in a pair of starter allowance races and is taking a massive bump up in class.

The El Camino Real Derby goes as Race 7 on the 9-race Saturday card, with an approximate post time of 3:45 PM. Saturday’s marquee event will be shown on “America’s Day at the Races” on Fox Sports 2 and TVG network. TVG’s Joaquin Jaime has been assigned to cover the Saturday action on-sight while XBTV’s Zoe Cadman will also be on hand providing handicapping analysis over the Golden Gate Fields track feed with GGF race caller Matt Dinerman.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Race 7: $100,000 2020 El Camino Real Derby (Post time: approximately 3:45 PM PT)

#1 Indian Peak (Jockey Juan Hernandez, Quinn Howey)

#2 Praise Loudly (Silvio Amador, Daniel Franko)

#3 American Farmer (Kent Desormeaux, Steve Sherman)

#4 Wine and Whisky (Cristobal Herrera, Felix Rondan)

#5 Mysterious Stones (William Antongeorgi III, Steve Sherman)

#6 Final Final (Kevin Krigger, Bill McLean)

#7 Sacred Rider (Frank Alvarado, Steve Specht)

#8 Ajourneytofreedom (Ricky Gonzalez, Blaine Wright)

#9 Azul Coast (Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert)

#10 Czechmight (Jose Valdivia Jr., Richard Baltas)

#11 The Stiff (Julien Couton, Michael McCarthy)