©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields this Saturday is the first test for three year olds running nine furlongs on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” and, in what appears to be a wide-open horse race, Conquest Typhoon will head a field of ten young Thoroughbreds as the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite.
Ranked 18th in Derby point standings, Conquest Typhoon has finished in the money in five of his six starts, compiling a 2-3-0 record for trainer Mark Casse, including wins in the Summer Stakes (G2) and Cecil B. De Mille Stakes (G3). However, the talented son of Stormy Atlantic has not raced since last November and in his only start at 8½ furlongs, Conquest Typhoon finished second to International Star in the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine last October.
While Conquest Typhoon may be competitive off of the two-month layoff, there are other horses I like better in this Derby.
The last three races for Stand and Salute (6-1) have been at Golden Gate Fields and in five starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer he’s compiled a 2-1-1 record, including a win in the Gold Rush Stakes last December and a third-place finish in the California Derby in January. In that race, Stand and Salute was hampered by other horses on the far turn but closed strongly to only lose by two lengths. Here’s the chart call and video:
CROSS THE LINE was unhurried for a half mile, rallied two wide on the second turn, surged to a clear lead in upper stretch and held under steady urging. SOUL DRIVER settled mid pack from the rail to the second turn, remained inside while being outkicked by the winner but kept to task in the drive. STAND AND SALUTE was outsprinted early, settled to the half, was forced out four then five wide to the stretch and was gaining ground belatedly.
Commenting in a Golden Gate news story about Stand and Salute’s traffic trouble in the California Derby, regular jockey Russell Baze, who retains the mount in this race, said “I got mugged for an eighth of a mile around the turn.” And, when viewing the video, it’s clear to see that Stand and Salute dropped out of the race going into the far turn, settling second to last, but made a nice rally in the stretch to finish third.
I look for the Hall of Fame jockey, Baze, who’s won the El Camino Real Derby (G3) a record nine times, to keep Stand and Salute free and clear in this race. And he’s teaming up with Hollendorfer who’s won this race a record six times – and five of those races were with Baze in the irons.
A long shot I like this race is Harmonic (20-1). He’s also trained by Hollendorfer and he comes into this race with a 1-0-1 in five starts. Harmonic struggled as a two year old, finishing off the board in his first two starts and he did not finish his third race.
Last November, Harmonic hit the board with a third-place finished to Rock Shandy, who went on to finish second in the one-mile Sham Stakes (G3) as my 21.40-1 long shot pick and he recently finished third to Dortmund and Firing Line in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3).
Finally, in his debut as a three year old, Harmonic broke his maiden last month running nine furlongs at Golden Gate in a slow time of 1:54.90. Granted, Harmonic will need to improve on that time to secure the win in this race.
However, Harmonic has one of the best pedigrees in this group and he has room to improve off of his first start as a three year old. And, Hollendorfer and jockey Richardo Gonzalez have been hot for the last sixty days hitting at 36% wins and 71% in the money finishes.
If Harmonic lives up to breeding and moves forward off of his last start, he could be competitive and, perhaps, win at a huge price.
Metaboss is an improving colt that comes into this race with a 1-1-1 record in four starts for trainer Jeff Bonde.
In his debut last month as a three year old, Metaboss finally broke his maiden running nine furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita. The final time of 1:49.21 is pretty decent and a repeat that performance could make him competitive in this race.
Cross the Line is also trained by Hollendorfer and he comes into this race with a 2-1-1 record in four starts, including a win in the California Derby at Golden Gate last month.
Regular jockey Juan Hernandez retains the mount and in the last 60 days with Hollendorer he’s been 40% in wins and 80% in the money finishes.
Cross the Line has been training well at Golden Gate and a recent bullet work on February 5 could have Cross the Line ready to run a good race.
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. El Kabeir, 25, John Terranova II, $380,792
2. International Star, 21, Mike Maker, $250,979
3. Dortmund, 20, Bob Baffert, $390,000
4. Upstart, 16, Rick Violette Jr., $538,080
5. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
6. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,176,000
7. Mr. Z, 12, D. Wayne Lukas, $488,326
8. Far Right, 12, Ron Moquett, $205,906
9. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
10. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
11. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
12. Far From Over, 10, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
13. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $97,231
14. Frosted, 8, Kiaran McLaughlin, $156,800
15. Firing Line, 8, Simon Callaghan, $130,000
16. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
17. Rock Shandy, 6, Peter Miller, $56,000
18. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $221,827
19. Bayerd, 4, Steve Asmussen, $245,000
20. Imperia, 4, Kiaran McLaughlin, $163,804