Manando 9-5 Favorite In $200,000 El Camino Real Derby

Manando 9-5 Favorite In $200,000 El Camino Real Derby

     Manando, a $300,000 colt from the Bob Baffert barn, is the 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

     The 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby is part of the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” a 36-race series that awards points to the top four finishers in each race.  The top 20 point earners nominated to the Triple Crown will get a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.  Point distribution in the El Camino Real Derby will be as follows: 10 points for first place, four for second, two for third, and one for fourth.

     The El Camino Real Derby, the eighth race on a nine-race program, will be run at approximately 4:40 p.m. and be broadcast on live on Comcast SportsNet California during its one-hour telecast (4 p.m. to 5 p.m.) from Golden Gate Fields.  

     First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m.  Gates open at 10 a.m. and fans attending Golden Gate Fields with a paid admission will receive a free fleece jacket that features the official El Camino Real Derby logo.

     Manando, a bay colt by Bluegrass Cat, was purchased as a 2-year-old for $300,000 and has finished in the money in all five of his starts.  Manando is coming off a strong front-running try in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile race at Santa Anita in which he finished third behind Goldencents and Den’s Legacy.  Manando’s effort earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 91, easily the top number in the El Camino Real Derby field.

     Jockey Aaron Gryder, who won the $6 million Dubai World Cup in 2009 with Well Armed, has been given the riding assignment on Manando in the El Camino Real Derby.

     The 5-2 second choice in the El Camino Real Derby is locally-based Zeewat, winner of the California Derby and the Gold Rush Stakes.  Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Zeewat is 2-for-2 racing around two turns and wearing blinkers.  

     Zeewat, a bay son of Harlan’s Holiday, cost $50,000 as a yearling and has already earned $177,700 while winning four of his six career starts.  Zeewat has recorded all four of his wins under Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, who will be back in the irons Saturday.

     Carving, another representative from the powerful Baffert barn, is the third choice on the morning line at 3-1.  Carving has won two stakes and earned $159,900 in five starts and is owned in partnership by Baffert’s wife, Natalie, and Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller (2010 Vancouver Games, alpine skiing, super combined).

     Jockey Victor Espinoza, who teamed with Baffert to win the 2002 Kentucky Derby with War Emblem, will ride Carving for the first time Saturday.

     The El Camino Real Derby field also includes Wildcat Moon (6-1), Nina’s Dragon (12-1), Rush In (12-1), Dice Flavor (20-1), Counting Days (30-1), and North Pacific
(30-1).

     Wildcat Moon ran second in the California Derby after leading to midstretch.  Rush In and Nina’s Dragon finished second and third, respectively, in a one-mile allowance prep for the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 1.  Dice Flavor has finished in the money in three of his four career starts, all of which have been on turf.  Counting Days won his only start on a synthetic surface, and North Pacific is coming off a victory in a six-furlong maiden allowance race at Golden Gate Fields.

     $100,000 Guaranteed Late Pick Four  --  Golden Gate Fields is offering a guaranteed $100,000 pool in its late Pick Four Saturday.  A 50-cent bet, the Pick Four challenges handicappers to pick the winners of four consecutive races.  The late Pick Four will be held on races six through nine.