Saturday’s $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) is the next-to-last prep in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. Held over the synthetic Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, the 1 1/18-mile race has drawn a full field of 14 3-year-olds.
After Monday’s Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park, point values will increase to 50-20-10-4 beginning with the February 20 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.
No winner of the El Camino Real Derby has come back to capture the Kentucky Derby, but Charismatic finished a head second before posting a 31-1 upset a few starts later in the 1999 Run for the Roses.
Leading El Camino Real Derby contenders
Frank Conversation is the 2-1 morning line favorite following his 2 ½-length victory in the January 16 California Derby at Golden Gate. The bay colt has the same connections – owner Reddam Racing, trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Guitierrez as 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another and 2015 champion 2-year-old male Nyquist, a leading contender for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Unraced since a runner-up in the October 4 Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine, Kasseopia’s affinity for a synthetic track bears relevance as the English-bred colt makes his first start for new Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Kasseopia is listed as the 7-2 early second choice.
Mr. Coker comes next at 9-2 on the morning line and will be making his stakes bow for Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. A sharp maiden scorer at Santa Anita last out, Mr. Coker finished second in his first start to Danzing Candy, an individual interest in this weekend’s Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Marqula and Algenon, the second- and third-place finishers from the California Derby, are also back for the El Camino Real Derby.
Photo of Frank Conversation courtesy of Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography