Rombauer catches the filly Javanica in the El Camino Real Derby (Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography)
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in Saturday’s $101,350 El Camino Real Derby, Rombauer closed from last to deny the filly Javanica by a neck at Golden Gate Fields. John and Diane Fradkin’s homebred added 10 more points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) and also booked himself a spot in the Preakness (G1).
Rombauer was scoring his first stakes win while underscoring his surface versatility. The Michael McCarthy trainee has won on turf, placed second in the American Pharoah (G1) in his dirt debut, and now expanded his portfolio to the all-weather. He’s following in the tradition of sire Twirling Candy, himself a winner on all three types of surfaces.
Fifth to champion Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last time out, Rombauer brought the strongest form to bear. The Southern California shipper was confidently handled by Kyle Frey, who let him settle at the rear of the field and delivered a well-timed rally.
Godolphin’s Javanica was aiming to become the second filly to win Northern California’s premier classic prep, after Paved (a McCarthy trainee in 2018), and the 2-1 chance nearly did so. Settled in midpack early as longshot It’s My House set the pace, Javanica was the first to pounce in the stretch and forged clear. She dug in when Rombauer arrived on the scene, but could not fend him off in the final strides.
By covering 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta in 1:51.64, Rombauer improved his resume to 5-2-1-0, $210,500. The bay has 14 Derby points, including the four from his runner-up effort in the Sept. 26 American Pharoah.
Javanica, primarily a turf performer, received four points. The 119-1 Govenor’s Party reported home a further four lengths back in third, good for two points, and It’s My House earned one point for holding fourth. That trio is not nominated to the Triple Crown. Rounding out the order under the wire were Waspirant, Petruchio, Tesoro, and Play Chicken. Positivity was scratched.