Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith's CONNEMARA (Giant's Causeway) suffered the first loss of his career when making his stakes bow in the January 16 California Derby, but bounced right back to capture the $150,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields by 1 1/4 lengths on Saturday. With veteran reinsman Russell Baze in the irons, the Todd Pletcher trainee rallied wide into the stretch before pulling away to complete 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta in 1:51 1/5.
Ranger Heartley (Lost Soldier) was quickest from the gate and showed the way through fractions of :24 2/5, :49 2/5 and 1:13. Thomas Baines (Johannesburg) and Very Fair (Our New Recruit) were running in tandem just behind while Connemara was content to settle in last through the opening half. Baze allowed Connemara to commence his rally as Very Fair and Thomas Baines ranged up to the outside of Ranger Heartley. Swinging widest of all rounding the turn, the chestnut colt pored it on down the lane to improve his record to 4-3-1-0.
Connemara paid $4.60, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 6-5 favorite in the nine-horse field. Haimish Hy (Ecton Park), the 25-1 seventh pick, finished fast to take second, returning $18.40 and $9.20 while ending the $44.50 exacta ($1). It was another length back to Posse Power (Posse), who was worth $5.40 at 10-1 and completed the $320.30 trifecta ($1). Fog Alert (Thunder Gulch) just got his head in front of Ranger Heartley to grab fourth, finishing off the 8-1-3-5 superfecta ($1) that totaled $2,083.70. Thomas Baines, Very Fair, Bert' N the Group (Bertrando) and Our Minesweeper (Cause Ur Mine) followed in that order while Jairzihno (GB) (Royal Applause [GB]) was an early scratch.
Connemara began his career at Turf Paradise last year, breaking his maiden by five lengths, then was shipped to Santa Anita for a half-length allowance score on November 4. He didn't make his next start until the California Derby, where he just failed to run down Ranger Heartley as the 3-5 favorite. The winner's share from this one boosted his career earnings to $147,800.
Bred in Kentucky by Commonwealth, Connemara is out of the stakes-winning Satin Sunrise (Mr. Leader), whose first registered foal is 2002 Florida Oaks (G3) queen French Satin (French Deputy). She would later go on to produce multiple Grade 1 hero and eventual sire Lion Heart (Tale of the Cat), who finished second in the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1). The 20-year-old mare also has a pair of unnamed colts, a Johannesburg juvenile and a yearling full brother to Connemara. Other notables in this family include Grade 2 heroine La Reason (Labeeb [GB]).