The Road to the Kentucky Derby series makes a stop in Northern California for the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields on February 18. Contested over a synthetic Tapeta track, the 1 1/8-mile qualifier offers points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward a berth in a 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Sheer Flattery is the 7-5 morning line favorite among seven runners. A chestnut son of Flatter, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt exits a third in the February 4 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita and has made all five career starts in Southern California. He will receive a switch to Frank Alvarado, who enters this week tied for first in the local jockey standings.
Ann Arbor Eddie, the 2-1 early second choice, looms as a serious win contender. Conditioned by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill, the Square Eddie gelding has posted a pair of restricted stakes wins over California-bred rivals in the December 18 King Glorious at Los Alamitos and January 28 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita. His only setback, a third in the Bob Hope (G3) last November, came against well-regarded prospect Mastery. Mario Gutierrez, who rode Kentucky Derby winners Nyquist (2016) and I’ll Have Another (2012) for O’Neill, will accompany Ann Arbor Eddie up north.
More Power to Him and Colonel Samsen finished second and third, respectively, in the January 21 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields and both sophomores are winners on the Tapeta. Alejandro Gomez rides More Power to Him for trainer Faith Taylor and Ricardo Gonzalez has the call on the Eoin Harty-trained Colonel Samsen.
Completing the field are California Cup Derby third-placer Tribal Storm; Zakaroff, who exits a fifth in the California Derby; and maiden Kona Dreams.
(Ann Arbor Eddie [purple silks] winning the King Glorious Stakes courtesy of Benoit Photo)