Road to the Kentucky Derby: El Camino Real Derby

Eight horses will go into line this weekend for the Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Now, in the past this race hasn't always been one to produce a lot of significant contenders. Throughout the past five years, only two winners of the El Camino Real found there way to Louisville on the first Saturday in May, Daddy Nose Best (2012) and Chocolate Candy (2009). This year, however, don't be surprised if at least a couple of horses from this race make it to the Kentucky Derby because the race came up quite strong for an eight horse field at Golden Gate. The favorite is Enterprising for trainer Tom Proctor who is coming off of a half-length defeat in the California Derby, also run at Golden Gate. He'll be in with some tough company, such as the likes of Grade 1 winner Tamarando who got his big victory in the Del Mar Futurity last summer. His jockey all-time winningest jockey, Russell Baze knows the track well. Very well. He also has scored a record eight victories in the El Camino Real in his career, four of which were for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer who trains Tamarando. Dance with Fate, who comes off a victory in an allowance on the Santa Anita turf will be a tough customer too. The son of Two Step Salsa has proven that he can indeed run with the big boys with two runner-up efforts in Grade1's last year. Disregard his eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, he didn't get what you would call the best of trips. There is one thing that this race lacks, however: speed. With no clear frontrunner the big question going into this race will be, "Who will go to the front?". Many handicappers will be searching for that one that will go to the front to set a slow pace and possibly lead the field gate-to-wire. The only two horses that look like they would be up on the front end are Enterprising and I'll Wrap It Up. Enterprising is the favorite, so perhaps the lack of pace and his class will carry him to the winner's circle. Jockey Gary Stevens knows the horse well, having guided him to his lone two victories. I'll Wrap It Up comes from the barn of Doug O'Neill and while he may not exactly be the class of the race, he might just have enough speed to get himself his first graded stakes victory.

One of my rules when it comes to handicapping is that pace makes the race. If there's going to be a slow pace in a race such as this one, always look for those horses who will be laying close which in this case is Enterprising and I'll Wrap It Up. Enterprising has experience over the track and Gary Stevens seem to be a good match. He runs well every time and he'll be laying close to the front. Tamarando, like Enterprising is a tough horse who always seems to be right there and getting a piece of the action. The only race where he finished off the board was his first start in a maiden special weight at Betfair Hollywood Park. In his other eight career starts, he has never finished worse than third and has never been beaten more than 7 lengths. I'll Wrap It Up will be close which is good, but there is a good chance that he will get outclassed. Regardless, don't be surprised if he is at least third or fourth. The race is at 7:15 PM EST and will be televised on TVG.