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Road to the Kentucky Derby - El Camino Real Derby Preview

The El Camino Real Derby is a 1 18-mile race for three-year-olds held at Golden Gate Fields along the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay. The race dates back to 1982 and is named for the so-called "Royal Road" or "King’s Highway" that connects the Spanish missions from the San Francisco Bay south to San Diego. The race was initially run at the late Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo until 2000 and again from 2005-2008. Golden Gate Fields has been the host track every other year and the race was stretched from 1 116 miles to 1 18 miles starting in 2009.

The El Camino Real Derby is run on Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta surface, which is made of sand, fiber and wax 4-7 inches above a porous asphalt surface. The race was also downgraded in 2018 to listed status and the purse was cut in half to $100,000.

The El Camino Real Derby provides Kentucky Derby points to the top-four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis, but the race has yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner. However, three of its victors have gone on to take the Preakness: Tank’s Prospect (1985), Snow Chief (1986), and Tabasco Cat (1994).

In 2018, Paved became the first filly to win the El Camino Derby. She did it in style, beating the boys as the 2-1 favorite and then went on to win a Grade 2 turf race at Santa Anita Park in June. Turf horses have had success in the El Camino Real because turf form tends to translate more truly to Tapeta than it does to other synthetics. Paved was also the latest El Camino Real winner to rally and win from off the pace. Since 2009, not a single front runner or speed horse has won the race.

In the 2017 edition, Zakaroff scored the second biggest upset in the 37-year history of the El Camino Real Derby. He rallied to win by a half-length at 48-1 odds and returned $99.60 on a $2 win wager. In 2015, Metaboss won in the fastest El Camino Real Derby time since 2008, finishing 1 18 miles in 1:49.92.

The 2019 El Camino Real Derby has drawn a field of 13, and the two favorites are Bob Baffert-trained Kingly (#9) (2-1) and Anothertwistafate (#4) (5-2).

Kingly is a well-bred Tapit colt with just two races, winning his debut at Del Mar and finishing second as the favorite last out at Santa Anita Park on January 31 when unable to catch the leader going one mile. Anothertwistafate is based at Golden Gate Fields and is two-for-three in his career thus far, with both wins coming at Golden Gate. He won those races in wire-to-wire fashion, which has not been the way of scoring in the El Camino Real Derby, but continued improvement is expected with Juan Hernandez staying aboard.

King of Speed (#2) (10-1) is a Jimmy Creed colt with eight races already and a pair of minor stakes wins. However, he finished 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and last of six in the December 8 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) won by Kentucky Derby contender Improbable. Eagle Song (#7) (5-1) joined trainer Mark Glatt’s barn after making his first eight starts in his native Ireland. He finished fourth and second in his two stateside efforts so far at Santa Anita Park and is plenty capable of coming from off the pace to challenge. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sends his strong closer More Ice (#12) (8-1) to this race following a pair of solid works over the Golden Gate Fields track. He has two wins in six starts and the More Than Ready colt looks ready for this race.

The rest of the field includes a pair of Doug O’Neill-trained three-year-olds in The Creep (#5) (12-1) and Weekly Call (#6) (12-1). The Creep has two wins in nine starts but lacks speed. Weekly Call has shown better speed in two races since breaking his maiden in November, but finished fifth behind The Creep in the Eddie Logan Stakes two back and has faded in both recent races on the front end. Longshots Knight’s Cross (#10) (20-1), Mayor Cobb (#13) (20-1), Royal Insider (#11) (30-1), Rey Coliman (#8) (30-1), Data Hawk (#3) (30-1) and Angelo’s Pride (#1) (30-1) on the rail complete the field.

The El Camino Derby is Race 7 with post time at 6:54 p.m. (ET).