The Road to the Kentucky Derby series took a turn through Northern California in the Feb. 15 El Camino Real Derby, with a field of 11 contesting the 17-point qualifier (10-4-2-1 scale) over the Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields.
Here are three takeaways from the El Camino Real Derby:
1 – Azul Coast did not disappoint as the 13-10 favorite, edging away to a 1 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby. The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver was making his third career start, breaking his maiden by a four-length margin at Los Alamitos and recording a non-threatening second in the Jan. 4 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita.
2 – Bob Baffert is loaded with Kentucky Derby prospects. The five-time Kentucky Derby winner must ship horses out of Santa Anita to keep his 3-year-olds separated, electing to send Azul Coast northward, and the colt became his third pupil to capture a qualifier this year (joining Authentic and Thousand Words).
The Hall of Fame conditioner is also targeting qualifiers with Nadal, who closed as the favorite among individual interests in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager; Sham third-placer High Velocity; and recent maiden winner Charlatan.
3 – Confidence-building win. The competition was questionable and the El Camino Real Derby lacked a legitimate pace, with the opening three-quarters being completed in a glacial 1:14.14. Azul Coast took care of business while stretching out to nine furlongs, and I won’t put much stock into the Brisnet Speed rating (84) earned over the synthetic track.
He will look to keep moving forward off the confidence builder, and we’ll see where Azul Coast fits when he returns to a dirt prep next time.