2022 El Camino Real Derby Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Racing
Mackinnon, above, is the most accomplished 3-year-old entered in the El Camino Real Derby and a prime win candidate for the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying race Saturday at Golden Gate Fields. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Northern California racing takes a bow Saturday on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve as Golden Gate Fields hosts the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby.

The El Camino Real Derby offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis and, as usual, drew a few shippers from Southern California to compete against locally based Derby hopefuls. In addition to 10 Derby points, the winner of the El Camino Real receives an automatic entry to the 2022 Preakness Stakes May 21 at Pimlico.

The race, which is held at 1 1/8 miles on Golden Gate’s synthetic Tapeta Footings track, was first held in 1982 and has been run at Golden Gate since 2009. Notable winners from years past include Tank’s Prospect (1985), Snow Chief (1986), Sea Cadet (1991), Tabasco Cat (1994), Cavonnier (1996), and last year’s winner Rombauer, who subsequently won the Preakness Stakes.

This year’s renewal will be televised live by TVG with as scheduled post time of 7:15 p.m. ET.

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Read on for information about all of the El Camino Real Derby contenders.


1. Stormy Samurai (8-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: William Antongeorgi III

Trainer: Jack Steiner

Owner: Michael Moran

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $39,060

Earnings per start: $9,765

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 84

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: First Samurai – Free Rein, by Street Cry

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Stormy Samurai has made three out of his four career starts on Golden Gate’s synthetic main track and won two of them, including his start prior to the El Camino Real, when he rallied strongly to take a six-furlong allowance optional-claiming race by a half-length. Saturday will mark his first try around two turns, and he shares a similar come-from-behind running style with several horses that have proven routing ability. On the other hand, this colt has Equibase Speed Figures that are competitive compared with the El Camino Real Derby field and he’s ridden by a jockey in William Antongeorgi who is year-in, year-out one of the leaders in wins and earnings at this Bay Area track. Stormy Samurai has a chance to fill out the exacta, and a longer shot to win.


Eclipse Sportswire

2. Mackinnon (8-5)

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owners: Boom Racing, ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables and Dave Kenney

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $333,860

Earnings per start: $47,694

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Kentucky Derby points: 1

Pedigree: American Pharoah – Scat Means Go, by Scat Daddy

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Mackinnon figures to be the post-time favorite in the El Camino Real Derby and that bodes well for his win chances as this race has been won by the public’s pick in the last three runnings. He excelled on turf last year at age 2, winning a grass stakes at Del Mar and then one at Santa Anita Park, and he closed out 2021 with a sharp effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf back at Del Mar, where he finished third by 1 ¾ lengths to European star Modern Games and earned a 108 Equibase Speed Figure that towers above his competition in this race. He made the first start on dirt since his career debut last month in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, and ran evenly when fourth behind wire-to-wire winner Newgrange. Mackinnon’s turf form should transfer well to Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings, and he’s shown the ability to muster a strong stretch kick with consistency. Add it up and you have the leading win candidate in Saturday’s Derby prep, one who could leave the gate at less than even-money odds. Trainer Doug O’Neill won the 2016 El Camino Real with Frank Conversation.


3. Unraptured (10-1)

Jockey: Armando Ayuso

Trainer: Tim McCanna

Owners: Angela Adams, James Michael Connors, Paris Oliver Connors and Richard Rasmussen

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $40,320

Earnings per start: $13,440

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 80

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Uncaptured – Petunia Face, by Congrats

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Florida-bred is 2-for-3 in his career, both wins coming on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings track. He won his debut last October by an impressive 3 ½ lengths with an 80 Equibase Speed Figure and finished a close third on turf for his only starts at age 2. Unraptured came back to romp by four lengths in a Jan. 14 one-mile allowance optional-claiming race on Tapeta, although he only earned a 69 Equibase figure. He’s a longshot win candidate in the El Camino Real but a horse to consider for the exotics, and his stalking running style is a plus in a field comprised largely of deep closers. Jockey Armando Ayuso leads the current Golden Gate meet in wins with 24 (boasting an impressive 30% win rate) and ranks second by purse earnings as of Feb. 9.


4. Blackadder (7-2)

Jockey: Edwin Maldonado

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable and Siena Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $48,920

Earnings per start: $16,307

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 83

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Quality Road – Chapel, by Pulpit

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Bob Baffert sends this son of Quality Road north from Santa Anita Park after he broke his maiden in his third career start on the opening day card at “The Great Race Place” on Dec. 26. Blackadder came from off the pace to win a two-turn, one-mile race by 1 ¼ lengths, showing improvement from his 2-year-old season where he knocked heads with horses such as his stablemate, last week’s dominant Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Messier. Blackadder has put in some solid workouts at Santa Anita since that victory and shapes up as arguably the top challenger to Mackinnon in the El Camino Real Derby if he can transfer his recently displayed dirt form to the synthetic surface and can also boost his Equibase Speed Figure by around 10 points or so. Baffert won the 2020 El Camino Real with Azul Coast and also won in 1996 with Cavonnier, a colt that helped make Baffert a national name after he subsequently won the Santa Anita Derby and then finished second by a nose to Grindstone in the Kentucky Derby.


5. Nuestro Engreido (20-1)

Jockey: Santos Rivera

Trainer: Felix Rondan

Owners: Ruben Arechiga and Felix Rondan

Career record: 10 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $54,402

Earnings per start: $5,440

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 79

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Cat Burglar – Just Heavenly, by North Light

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This California-bred gelding is easily the most experienced contender in the El Camino Real Derby field with 10 career starts, and the last eight of them have come on Golden Gate’s synthetic main track. His last two efforts have been his best, as he closed out 2021 with a maiden win in a 5 ½-furlong sprint and then returned on Jan. 28 to run third in a six-furlong allowance optional-claiming race. However, he lost a late lead in that race, which was won by El Camino Real foe Stormy Samurai, and overall his form is not competitive with most of his opponents in Saturday’s race. Nuestro Engreido is one of the few contenders with a forwardly-placed running style, so he could be a pace factor early on. It would be surprising to see this longshot in the mix when the field turns for home.


Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography

6. Boise (9-2)

Jockey: Evin Roman

Trainer: Jonathan Wong

Owners: Jason Hall, Scott Herbertson, and Sheldon Steinmetz

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $72,500

Earnings per start: $18,125

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Temple City – Chu and You, by You and I

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Boise has traversed the Golden State over the past several months, posting a perfect 2-for-2 record at Golden Gate (one win on turf, one on synthetic) and running respectably in two turf starts on the more competitive Southern California circuit. He nearly posted a 14.70-1 upset last November in a grass stakes race at Del Mar, finishing fourth by a half-length in a blanket finish, but was less successful in his first start of 2022 as he checked in a well-beaten seventh in the Jan. 1 Eddie Logan Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita. He’s already won a stakes race at Golden Gate, taking the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes Dec. 4 by a half-length and earning a 91 Equibase Speed Figure. This Temple City colt is a must-use in all exotic bets and stands an upset chance if Mackinnon fails to bring his “A” game. Jonathan Wong leads the Golden Gate trainer standings by considerable margins in both wins and purse earnings through Feb. 9.


Dr Pescado (outside) (Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography)

7. Dr Pescado (15-1)

Jockey: Pedro Terrero

Trainer: Felix Rondan

Owners: Ruben Arechiga

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $68,668

Earnings per start: $17,167

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Fullbridled – Sweetly Peppered, by Peppered Cat

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Another local hopeful, Dr Pescado showed potential in his most recent start when he tried two turns for the first time, rallying late to nab third in the one-mile Dec. 4 Gold Rush Stakes on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings track won by Boise. Prior to that, he won two of his three prior starts at sprint distances – including a listed stakes – and earned Equibase figures in the 70s. He’s a longshot who could spice up the trifecta and/or superfecta payouts if he can improve on his effort in the Gold Rush, and the fact that he’s got the current top-earning jockey at Golden Gate, Pedro Terrero, in the irons is a plus. Terrero is in the midst of a successful comeback to the sport this winter after suffering a serious head injury in a race just over two years ago.


8. Meetmeattheclub (50-1)

Jockey: Silvio Ruiz Amador

Trainer: Daniel Franko

Owner: Daniel Franko

Career record: 2 starts – 0 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $5,700

Earnings per start: $2,850

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 72

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Clubhouse Ride – Lizzy’s Tizgirl, by Slew’s Tiznow

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Despite possessing a name that’s no doubt appealing to many during this era of lockdowns and crowd restrictions, Meetmeattheclub is up against it in the El Camino Real Derby and should vie with Nuestro Engreido for the longest shot in the field come post time. He’s yet to reach the winner’s circle and has been defeated by more than 2 ¾ lengths in each of his two prior starts, both 5 ½-furlong sprints on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings track. He made mild rallies in both of those races from a stalking position but could not sustain them, and his low-70s Equibase Speed Figure level simply won’t cut it against this field as he stretches out to two turns. Picking up a couple of straggling horses and filling out the superfecta should be considered a success for this California-bred gelding.


Television schedule

Thursday, Feb. 10: Eclipse Awards broadcast 8:30 p.m. on TVG

Friday, Feb. 11: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Feb. 12: 1:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Feb. 13: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

9. C’Mon Man (15-1)

Jockey: Irving Orozco

Trainer: Bill McLean

Owners: Sharon Broetzman, Chris Carpenter, Cheryl Hauck, Bill McLean, and Doug Planchon

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $48,100

Earnings per start: $8,017

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Tourist – Table Jumper, by Jump Start

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist is 2-for-4 on Golden Gate’s synthetic main track but has been soundly defeated in both of his trips to Southern California tracks, including finishing eighth by 9 ¼ lengths in his most recent outing, the Jan. 2 Eddie Logan Stakes on turf at Santa Anita. El Camino Real Derby foe Boise finished seventh in that race but was 2 ½ lengths ahead of C’Mon Man. On the positive side, C’Mon Man finished a solid fourth, 1 ½ lengths behind Boise, in the Gold Rush Stakes two starts back on Dec. 4 on the Tapeta track, and he was closing stoutly in that one-mile race. A repeat of that effort could help this gelding collect third- or fourth-place money in the El Camino Real Derby. Jockey Irving Orozco is currently ranked third by wins and earnings at Golden Gate.


10. Il Bellator (20-1)

Jockey: Alejandro Gomez      

Trainer: Jose Bautista

Owners: Edward and Theresa DeNike

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $29,400

Earnings per start: $7,350

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 84

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Shackleford – Kaili, by Grand Slam

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Il Bellator is worth a look as a longshot horse to include in exotic bets based on his most recent start, which came on Nov. 25 in a one-mile maiden race on Golden Gate’s synthetic track. He raced in second behind the early pacesetter and assumed command on the far turn before extending his lead to a 2 ½-length margin at the finish, successfully handling the stretch out to two turns after competing in sprints for his first three starts. If his jockey can get him forwardly placed in the El Camino Real Derby from his outside post position – or perhaps put him on the lead in a race devoid of early speed – Il Bellator has the pedigree to handle the 1 1/8-mile distance in the El Camino Real distance as a son of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford from a female family that includes long-distance turf millionaire Diplomatic Jet. 


11. Del Mo (10-1)

Jockey: Ruben Fuentes                         

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owners: Glenn Sorgenstein WC Racing, Train Wreck Al Racing Stables and William Strauss

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $30,500

Earnings per start: $7,625

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 85

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – No Lip Service, by Bodemeister

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The lesser accomplished of Doug O’Neill’s two entries in Saturday’s race, Del Mo does have some appeal as an exacta and trifecta option to use with stablemate Mackinnon based on the fact that he’s posted a record of one win and two seconds in three starts going a mile on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings main track. The win came in his most recent start on Jan. 9, when he overcame a slow start to show a nice stretch kick and break his maiden by two lengths. In his start before that, Del Mo also closed ground late to finish 2 ½ lengths behind Il Bellator, who’ll be lining up next to him in the El Camino Real Derby starting gate. Jockey Ruben Fuentes may let Del Mo settle in near the back of the field early on and find a spot to save ground through the backstretch, but he could have some company in a field that’s largely comprised of stalkers and closers. This colt has one of the better distance pedigrees in this field and could hit the board if he gets a clean trip and enough pace to set up his rally.

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