Entrants In El Camino Real Derby Have Interesting Credentials

Entrants In El Camino Real Derby Have Interesting Credentials

     Nine 3-year-olds will meet Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in the Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, Northern California’s official Kentucky Derby prep.  The entrants bring varied credentials into the 1 1/8-mile contest, which will be run at 4:40 p.m. and broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.  

     Following are notes on the horses in the El Camino Real Derby field, listed in the order in which they are ranked on the morning line.  
     
MANANDO (9-5 Favorite)
Bay colt by Bluegrass Cat was purchased as a 2-year-old for $300,000…Broke his maiden in his first start around two turns, winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park by 5 1/4 lengths in front-running fashion…Is coming off a third-place finish in the one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, a race in which he earned a solid Beyer Speed Figure of 91…Set the pace in the Sham and led until the sixteenth pole….Has finished in the money in all five of his races and has earned $58,440…Races for Kaleem Shah Inc. and is trained by Bob Baffert, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby (Silver Charm-1997, Real Quiet-1998, and War Emblem-2002)…Baffert is seeking his second El Camino Real Derby win as he won the race in 1996 with Cavonnier, who went on to run second (beaten a lip) in the Kentucky Derby…Will be ridden by Aaron Gryder, who won the world’s richest horse race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup, with Well Armed in 2009.

ZEEWAT (5-2)
Pennsylvania-bred colt overcame trouble to win the California Derby by a half-length over Wildcat Moon, a rival he’ll meet again in the El Camino Real Derby…Captured the California Derby despite being cut off at the start (by Wildcat Moon) and having to rally four-wide into the stretch…Has won three stakes at three different distances – the
six-furlong Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa, the one-mile Gold Rush at Golden Gate Fields, and the 1 1/16-mile California Derby at GGF…Although always well-backed at
the betting windows, he has been favored only twice (he was 4-5 in his debut and the California Derby) and is 2-for-2 as the “chalk.”…Bay son of Harlan’s Holiday cost $50,000 as a yearling and has already earned $177,700…Is 2-for-2 racing with blinkers, which were added for the Gold Rush Stakes…Is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and owned in partnership by Hollendorfer and his longtime client, George Todaro…Hollendorfer and Todaro, along with Mark DeDomenico and Dan Jelladian, won the 2007 El Camino Real Derby with Bwana Bull…Hollendorfer and Todaro also campaigned the talented filly Pike Place Dancer, who beat the boys in the 1996 California Derby before going on to win the Kentucky Oaks, the filly equivalent of the Kentucky Derby…Hollendorfer has saddled a record five El Camino Real Derby winners…Will be ridden by Hall of Famer Russell Baze, who has won the El Camino Real Derby a record eight times...Baze had 11,855 career victories through Feb. 13 and is the winningest jockey in North American racing history.

CARVING (3-1)
Is a two-time stakes-winner who has three victories in five starts and $159,900 in earnings…Captured the seven-furlong C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park in his second career start and two races later won the 1 1/16-mile mile Real Quiet Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park…Has recorded his three wins at three different racetracks: Del Mar, Fairplex Park, and Betfair Hollywood Park…Kentucky-bred son of Any Given Saturday was purchased as a 2-year-old for $55,000…Is trained by Bob Baffert and owned in partnership by Baffert’s wife, Natalie, and Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller (2010 Vancouver Games, alpine skiing, super combined)…Baffert is seeking his second El Camino Real Derby win as he won the race in 1996 with Cavonnier, who went on to run second (beaten a lip) in the Kentucky Derby…Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby three times (with Silver Charm-1997, Real Quiet-1998, and War Emblem-2002)…Will be ridden in the El Camino Real Derby by jockey Victor Espinoza, who piloted War Emblem to his Kentucky Derby victory.

WILDCAT MOON (6-1)
Ran second in the California Derby after breaking in sharply at the start…His actions leaving the gate prompted a stewards inquiry, however, the judges let his second-place finish stand, deeming that Wildcat Moon’s breaking inward didn’t cost any of his rivals a better placing….Made his first try around two turns in the Cal Derby and was only beaten a half-length by Zeewat….Set all the pace in the Cal Derby and battled gamely to the wire after being headed by Zeewat in midstretch…Very consistent Florida-bred son of D’wildcat has finished in the money in all eight of his starts while banking $86,370…. Was purchased for $20,000 as a yearling…Is trained by Jeff Bonde and owned in partnership by Bonde, Mersad Metanovic, and Margaret Shindelas…Bonde hopes to add an El Camino Real Derby victory to his roster of Derby wins in the Bay Area, which features triumphs in the Bay Meadows Derby (with Ranger in 1993), California Derby (Red Sky’s-1999 and Mr. Technique-2003), and Golden Gate Derby (Epic Honor-1999 and Standard Setter-2003)…Will be ridden by Kyle Frey, who won the 2011 Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice rider.

NINA’S DRAGON (12-1)
California-bred colt by Tizbud has finished in the money in all three of his races… Broke his maiden in his second start when he won a six-furlong maiden allowance race at Golden Gate Fields in 1:10.68 as the 6-5 favorite…Is coming off a third-place try in a one-mile allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 1…Is conditioned by Lloyd Mason, one of the leading trainers at Golden Gate Fields…Will be ridden by Julien Couton, who won the 2011 California Derby with Positive Response…Couton and Positive Response finished third in the 2011 El Camino Real Derby…Was bred in California by Dave Currie and owned in partnership by Currie and Yuhong Nina Bai.

RUSH IN (12-1)
Kentucky-bred made his debut in a 1 1/16-mile maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs in November and overcame a slow start and an eventful trip to win by a half-length at odds of 21-1…Was purchased privately following the maiden score by trainer William E. Morey for clients Saul Gevertz, Michael Nentwig, Roger Newman and Ray Pagano…Ran fourth in the Gold Rush Stakes in his first Bay Area start and then came back to win a one-mile starter allowance race by four lengths…Most recently finished second, beaten a half-length, as the favorite in a one-mile allowance test on Feb. 1 and is coming back in 15 days to contest the El Camino Real Derby…Morey trains Positive Response, who won the 2011 California Derby and finished third in the 2011 El Camino Real Derby…Will be ridden by Juan Hernandez, who returned to Golden Gate Fields last week after a stint in Southern California and won four races.

DICE FLAVOR (20-1)
Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy has finished in the money in three of his four career starts, all of which have been on turf...Broke his maiden in his first start around two turns when he rallied from sixth in a field of eight to capture a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park by 2 1/4 lengths under jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr… Valdivia, who will be back in the irons again Saturday, finished second in the 2004 El Camino Real Derby aboard Capitano, who dead-heated for the place with Seattle Borders…Valdivia has won a Triple Crown race (2011 Belmont Stakes with Ruler On Ice) and a Breeders’ Cup race (2001 Mile with Val Royal)…Is trained by Irishman Paddy Gallagher, who has had success shipping in horses for Bay Area Derbies...Gallagher won the 2008 California Derby with Yankee Bravo and the 2000 Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Derby with Walkslikeaduck…Is owned by Oda Racing Stable and US Equine.

COUNTING DAYS (30-1)
Is 1-for-1 racing on a synthetic surface as he broke his maiden on Keeneland’s Polytrack, winning a six-furlong $50,000 maiden-claiming event by 10 1/4 lengths in 1:10.68…Has made five starts at five different racetracks – Saratoga, Kentucky Downs, Keeneland, Betfair Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita…Kentucky-bred will make his 3-year-old debut in the El Camino Real Derby…Purchased as a yearling for $12,000, gelding has made $18,510 in his five races for his owners, Swift Thoroughbreds, Inc…Is trained by Carla Gaines, who conditioned 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing in Silks…Will be ridden by Dennis Carr, who returned from his native New York to finish second in the Golden Gate Fields jockey standings at the 2012 fall meeting.

NORTH PACIFIC (30-1)
Hopes to go from maiden winner to El Camino Real Derby winner…Broke his maiden in his eighth career start when he came from off the pace to win a six-furlong maiden allowance sprint by three-quarters of a length in 1:10.73 on Jan. 19 at Golden Gate Fields…Will be making his second stakes start as he finished fifth in Ascot Graduation Stakes at Hastings Park in Canada in October…Is trained by Len Kasmerski, who won the 2011 British Columbia Derby with Northern Causeway…This is Kasmerski’s second attempt at an “El Camino” victory as he sent out Loto Canada to a fourth-place finish in the 1979 El Camino Real Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds run at Bay Meadows… Will be ridden by Frank Alvarado, who won the 2000 El Camino Real Derby with Remember Sheikh.