Rombauer pictured training at Keeneland prior to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Coady Photography)
Rerouted from the Jan. 30 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita to Saturday’s $100,000 El Camino Real Derby, Rombauer is the one to beat in the 1 1/8-mile test at Golden Gate Fields.
The Michael McCarthy trainee figures to be effective on the Tapeta surface, considering his aptitude on both turf and dirt. A debut winner on the Del Mar turf last summer, Rombauer was a troubled sixth in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf before switching to the main track. The Twirling Candy colt made an eye-catching move for second in the Sept. 26 American Pharoah (G1), and followed up with a closing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his latest venture.
His most intriguing opponent is the Godolphin filly Javanica, who comes off three straight runner-up efforts in stakes for Eoin Harty. Rallying from last in the Oct. 17 Glorious Song on Woodbine’s Tapeta, Javanica was best of the rest behind Souper Sensational (a contender in Saturday’s Rachel Alexandra [G2] at Fair Grounds). The homebred returned to her usual surface, turf, for a slightly unlucky second in the Nov. 28 Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar and played second fiddle again in the Dec. 31 Blue Norther at Santa Anita. The Medaglia d’Oro filly could appreciate the step up in trip here, and her dam, the classy Shuruq, notably beat males in the 2014 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2) on Meydan’s old Tapeta.
Four other contenders are making the trip north for the El Camino Real – Petruchio, Waspirant, Play Chicken, and Positivity.
Petruchio enters on the upswing for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. By leading sire Into Mischief and out of a close relative of 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) champion Funny Cide, Petruchio followed up his turf maiden win with a third in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).
The John Shirreffs-trained Waspirant, a son of Union Rags and 2009 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1) heroine Life Is Sweet, has retreated to fourth in both stakes attempts. Ten lengths behind in the American Pharoah, he was beaten almost twice as far by Life Is Good in his comeback in the Jan. 2 Sham (G3). Like Rombauer, Waspirant was scratched from the Lewis.
California-bred stakes winners Positivity and Play Chicken both exit unplaced efforts in the Jan. 16 Cal Cup Derby, where they wound up fifth and a remote seventh, respectively. Positivity was previously a rough-trip last in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Play Chicken, representing two-time Kentucky Derby winners Reddam Racing and Doug O’Neill, will be trying open company for the first time.
The Golden Gate home team includes a couple graduating from maidens. Tesoro, first-past-the-post in his debut but demoted to fifth, has pedigree potential being out of a half-sister to last year’s Belmont (G1) and Travers (G1) hero Tiz the Law. It’s My House takes a big jump in distance off his sprint maiden win. Govenor’s Party was awarded a $40,000 maiden claiming win via disqualification. Appearing outclassed behind Play Chicken in the Dec. 20 King Glorious, Govenor’s Party was more in his comfort zone when taking a starter allowance last out over this track.
Carded as the 8TH race Saturday, with a post time of 7:15 p.m. (ET), the El Camino Real Derby is worth points on the 10-4-2-1 format to the top four.