The El Camino Real Derby offers points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve series, but it also deserves an asterisk. Much like the Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 9 at Turfway Park, the El Camino Real Derby is one of two preps contested on a synthetic racing surface. While the texture might resemble dirt, in many cases it favors horses who prefer turf, rendering it a dubious path to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
El Camino Real Derby
Racetrack: Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif.
Date: Feb. 16
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Post Time: 6:45 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Event of the Year (1998), Cavonnier (1996), Tabasco Cat (1994), Snow Chief (1986), Tank’s Prospect (1985)
First held: 1982
Kentucky Derby points: 10-4-2-1 to top four finishers, respectively
1. Angelo’s Pride (30-1 morning-line odds): Has experience on this racetrack, which is an asset in a race like this, but his two victories came in a starter allowance race and a $12,500 maiden claimer, putting him behind the eight ball in terms of class.
JOCKEY: Silvio Ruiz Amador; TRAINER: William Delia
2. King of Speed (10-1): Makes his 3-year-old debut after closing out 2018 with dull efforts in the Los Alamitos Futurity on dirt and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, both Grade 1 races. Has yet to race on a synthetic surface but an inside post and a pair of wins in listed turf stakes in Southern California bode well for his chances.
3. Data Hawk (30-1): Notched a solid maiden win on this track in December, but then failed to fire while finishing fourth against winners. Gets a little more distance here, which should help him turn in a better effort.
4. Anothertwistafate (5-2): Son of Scat Daddy has blossomed since he was shipped to Golden Gate two starts ago. Won both of those races in front-running fashion and could be tough to catch if allowed to canter along on the lead.
5. The Creep (12-1): Has only raced on Golden Gate’s main track once, finishing a nice second in a $75,000 stakes last December. If he can duplicate that effort, he should be a major player.
6. Weekly Call (12-1): Lacks experience on a synthetic surface but appears to have a nice dose of early speed that should help his cause while he stretches out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time in his career.
7. Eagle Song (5-1): Has turned in decent efforts in his first two U.S. starts at Santa Anita, finishing fourth then second. What sticks out, though, is two wins on a synthetic surface last fall in Ireland. Based on those performances, he should be able to handle this bunch.
8. Rey Coliman (30-1): Showed some nice improvement when he returned to the allowance ranks at Golden Gate. While he lost by five lengths, Rey Coliman had 3 ½ lengths on Data Hawk, who was third at the finish line. Could be a main factor on his best try.
JOCKEY: Catalino Martinez; TRAINER: Felix Rondan
9. Kingly (2-1): He’s trained by Bob Baffert, which should be enough to make him the top choice. Yet this full-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen appears to have a dirt pedigree and Baffert’s only win in this race came in 1996 with his Kentucky Derby runner-up Cavonnier. Figures to be overbet given those circumstances.
10. Knight’s Cross (20-1): Has yet to race on a synthetic surface and his four turf races are mediocre at best. His lone win in seven career starts came in a maiden-claiming race on Santa Anita’s main track. He will need to take a big step forward to have a say in the outcome.
11. Royal Insider (30-1): Another newcomer to a synthetic surface hails from the world-famous Godolphin Racing stable, but he is a maiden after four starts and was fifth at 66-1 odds in his last try.
12. More Ice (8-1): Has put in a couple of modest workouts on this track in preparation for his Golden Gate debut. Closed some ground to finish third in a $75,000 turf stakes at Santa Anita last time out and might be on the upswing for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has won the El Camino Real Derby six times. The post is definitely a drawback.
13. Mayor Cobb (20-1): Split two races with Angelo’s Pride in starter allowance races at Golden Gate. He was an odds-on favorite in both of those races but the outside post in a field of 13 hurts his cause.
THE PICK: Eagle Song
LIVE LONGSHOT: King of Speed