Trainer Bob Baffert, looking to increase his stable of Kentucky Derby qualifiers, will send the 9-5 morning line favorite Manando and Carving (3-1) to the starting gate today in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields racetrack.
Baffert’s only win in the El Camino was in 1996 when Cavonnier held off 105-1 longshot Sergeant Stroh to win the 8½-furlong race by a neck. Cavonnier would later go on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby. However, it remains to be seen if any of his entries in today’s race can be competitive at that level.
I didn’t like Manando or Carving in their last race and I’m not too keen on them in today’s race either which will be contested at 9-furlongs. Of the two, Manando has never been out of the money in five starts and he appears to have more upside than Carving who has a nice pedigree but has yet to live up to his breeding.
If Manando runs to his previous form, he should be competitive in today’s race.
A long shot I like in today’s race is Dice Flavor (20-1) who is an improving colt and looks like the could be ready to run a good race.
Dice Flavor finished his 2-year-old racing season with a win, breaking his maiden on his third start, by 2¼-lenghts in an 8½-furlong race at Betfair Hollywood Park on December 16. He followed up in his debut as a 3-year-old with a third-place finish in a one mile turf race at Santa Anita, three-quarters of a length shy of first-place honors.
The time of 1:36.97 was pretty decent and if Dice Flavor is anything like his sire Scat Daddy, he should be able to handle the stretch out to 9-furlongs.
As a 3-year-old, Scat Daddy was a tough competitor on the 2007 Kentucky Derby Trail. In his season debut, Scat Daddy finished third in the one mile Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and followed up with a win in the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) en route to a eighteenth-place finish in the Derby.
Dice Flavor’s damsire, Afleet, was competitive as a 3-year-old in sprint and route races winning the 9-furlong Plate Trial Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby (G2). He finished second in the 10-furlong Meadowlands Cup Handicap (G1) and Queen’s Plate Stakes.
Dice Flavor has room to improve in his second start of the season as a 3-year-old and another move forward will make him competitive on the El Camino.
Another long shot I like in today’s race is North Pacific (30-1) who struggled as a 2-year-old, compiling a 0-1-4 record in seven starts. But, in his debut as a 3-year-old, North Pacific finally broke his maiden on his eighth attempt in a 6-furlong sprint at Golden Gate Fields.
I like it when a young, struggling colt like North Pacific breaks his maiden in his 3-year-old debut. In his last race, North Pacific was much closer to the pace than he had been in his previous seven starts and that could, perhaps, be an indicator that he is reaching a level of maturity to make him more competitive.
North Pacific also has the breeding to be competitive at today’s distance. His sire, Master Command, was a tough competitor that compiled an 8-0-2 record in 15 starts and earned over $1.1 million during his racing career. Master Command was especially competitive at 9-furlongs winning such races as the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (G3), Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G3), New Orleans Handicap (G3) and the National Jockey Club Handicap (G2).
Slew Gin Fizz, the damsire of North Pacific, raced mostly in sprints and his best stakes performance was a win in the one mile Sheridan Stakes (G3). Wild Again, the sire of North Pacific’s second dam, was a good middle-distance runner who earned over $2.2 million during his racing career and won the 10-furlong Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Meadowland Cup Handicap (G1) and Suburban Stakes (G1).
North Pacific has room to improve in just the second start his season as a 3-year-old and another move forward would make him competitive in today’s race.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, with five wins to his credit, holds the record for the most wins in the El Camino and today he’ll send Zeewat to the starting gate as the 5-2 morning line second choice.
In six starts, Zeewat has compiled a 4-0-1 record and he comes into today’s race with a win the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on January 12. A repeat of his previous form would make him competitive in today’s race.
Currently, Manando is ranked 36th with two Derby points and Carving is ranked 37th with one point under the new scoring system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for horses to enter the Derby starting gate. The winner of the El Camino will receive 10 points while second-place will yield 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 1 point.
A win by any of the nine young horses entered in today’s race would place them in the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” Leaderboard top 20. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated February 2, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
2 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill, $740,000
3 = Oxbow, 11, D. Wayne Lukas, $180,000
4 = Violence, 10, Todd Pletcher, $495,000
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600
6 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $296,381
7 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse, $292,374
8 = Den’s Legacy, 10, Bob Baffert, $265,000
9 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert, $210,000
10 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $151,771
11 = Falling Sky, 10, John Terranova II, $122,500
12 = Revolutionary, 10, Todd Pletcher, $120,000
12 = Flashback, 10, Bob Baffert, $120,000
14 = Dynamic Sky, 8, Mark Casse, $271,668
15 = He’s Had Enough, 6, Doug O’Neill, $430,000
16 = Tesseron, 5, Josie Carroll, $49,017
17 = Bern Identity, 4, Kelly Breen, $572,000
18 = Capo Bastone, 4, Todd Pletcher, $246,000
19 = Know More, 4, Doug O’Neill, $210,000
19 = Texas Bling, 4, Danele Durham, $210,000