STAGE ONE OF DERBY PREPS REACHES FINAL WEEKEND

As the road to the Kentucky Derby moves along, this weekend will mark the final two races of the 1st stage of the prep races to qualify for the event.  The 1st race will be the El Camino Real Derby from Golden Gate Fields in San Francisco on Saturday, followed by the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday.  We’ll be covering each of these races in detail, but lets start with the El Camino Real derby.

The El Camino is a 1-1/8 Mile race  that will be run over the synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields.  The race is a $200,000 G3 race that will award 10-derby qualifying points to the winner, 4-points to 2nd, 2-points to 3rd, and 1-point to the 4th place finisher.  This years race will feature a field of 8-horses.  Let’s take a look at how we see it shaping up.

The ML favorite here is the #5 horse Enterprising.  At 5/2 on the ML, it’s no surprise that this Thomas Proctor trained colt is favored.  In 4-previous starts, he’s hit the board 3-times with 2-wins.  His last time out, he finished 2nd in the $100,000 California Derby here at Golden Gate.  In that race, he ran on the synthetic for the 1st time and earned a career high Beyer of 85.  He’ll be ridden here by the red-hot Gary Stevens, who brought him to two victories on the turf prior to his last start.  He’s definitely a horse to be considered here.  However, at 5/2 on the ML, with a top jockey aboard, we expect him to take a lot of play.  For that reason, we’re going to look elsewhere for our favorite.

We don’t need to look much deeper in the field than the 2nd favorite on the ML, the #4 Tamarando.  Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, this horse is currently 32nd in the overall qualifying standings based on the 2-points he earned with his 3rd place finish in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last September.  In that race, he was beaten by Bond Holder and Dance With Fate.  What we like about this horse is not only has he been very good on synthetic in his young career, posting 3-wins in 6-starts over the surface, but he’s also faced some very strong competition.  Two races back, he finished 3rd in the Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park.  In that race, he earned a Beyer of 93 while being beat by eventual winner Shared Belief, and 2nd place finisher Candy Boy.  Shared Belief posted a 100+ Beyer in that race, and has yet to be beaten.  Candy Boy came back to win the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita last weekend.  We believe that this horse likes the synthetic surface, and he’ll continue to improve on it.  We’re looking for him to come through in this race.

Another horse worth noting is the #8 Dance With Fate.  This horse is 7/2 on the ML, and will be making his 7th career start.  He’s also done well on synthetic, collecting a win and a 2nd in 3-starts over the surface.  His last time out was over the turf at Santa Anita, where he won and posted a career high Beyer of 83.  He has faced Tamarando twice, and finished in front of him once.  However, we believe that the 1-1/8 may be a bit much for him, and ultimately he doesn’t have the speed to win here.  At short odds, we’re going to leave him alone, but mix him into our exotics.

Our live longshot here will be the #7 I’ll Wrap it Up.  This horse has been a bit of a mystery for trainer Doug O’Neill in his 7-previous starts.  He has shown some speed at times, with his best race, and only win, coming over the synthetic at Hollywood Park.  He has faced some quality competition, but has been outmatched in most.  He does have a 2nd place finish to the favorite Enterprising last November.  We’re asking a lot from him today, but we believe he prefers this surface, and we’re confidant he can get the distance.  At 10/1, he can’t be ignored.  So, our selections for the El Camino Real are as follows:

BEST BET ($8 WIN, $6 PLACE, $4 SHOW):

TAMARANDO

LIVE LONGSHOT ($4 WIN, $6 PLACE, $8 SHOW):

I’LL WRAP IT UP

EXOTIC ($1 TRIFECTA BOX)

TAMARANDO, ENTERPRISING, DANCE WITH FATE, I’LL WRAP IT UP

EXOTIC ($1 EXACTA BOX)

TAMARANDO, ENTERPRISING, DANCE WITH FATE, I’LL WRAP IT UP

TOTAL SUGGESTED WAGERS: $72

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