El Camino Real Derby 2020: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

February 12, 2020 06:30pm

Wide open best describes the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby, a 1 1/8-mile stop on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail set for Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Azul Coast does bring some intrigue as a Bob Baffert-trained outsider who ran second in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Plus, Sacred Rider also carries credibility as the runner-up in the California Cup Derby to Fast Enough, who placed third in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) last weekend behind the highly-touted Nadal.

But overall, bettors will find trouble separating the class of these horses.

The El Camino Real Derby is carded as Race 7 with post time set for 6:45 p.m. ET.  

1. Indian Peak, 8-1 (Comic Strip – Quinn Howey/Juan Hernandez – 6: 2-1-0): Toss out the disappointing effort in the California Cup Derby on dirt. He ran into some traffic problems racing on the inside and did not appear comfortable. Besides that, dirt racing is not the same as synthetic. Two races ago, he won a local allowance optional claimer by 2 ½ lengths over Final Final and Sacred Rider. If he can build off that race, he can win pick up a win on the Derby trail. The pick.

2. Praise Loudly, 50-1 (Boisterous – Daniel Franko/Silvio Amador – 6: 1-1-2): With two recent losses in local starter allowances and another defeat in a low-level claimer, it is difficult to see the appeal of this gelding. Bettors can ignore him. Toss.

3. American Farmer, 20-1 (Bluegrass Cat – Steve Sherman/Kent Desormeaux – 5: 1-0-2): It took American Farmer five tries at this racetrack to break his maiden, but he finally picked up his first win on Jan. 26. He only won by 1 ¼ lengths, though. The runner-up, Mulholland Highway, previously finished a non-threatening fourth in his debut. Stepping forward is possible, but he likely is not fast enough.  Toss.

4. Wine and Whisky, 10-1 (Fullbridled – Felix Rondan/Cristobal Herrara – 5: 1-2-0): Competing against a few of these names in a local Jan. 19 optional claimer, he put up a game fight for second, losing by a neck. Sometimes when the entire field finishes bunched together, it indicates a slow race. The clustered finish rule is more true on dirt than synthetic, however, making it somewhat forgivable. But then again, what makes him better than familiar rivals The Stiff, Mysterious Stones and Ajourneytofreedom, all of whom compete in this spot too? Use underneath.

5. Mysterious Stones, 12-1 (Gemologist – Steve Sherman/William Antongeorgi III – 7: 3-0-2): As noted on Wine and Whisky, the problem is deciding which horse or horses to take out of that Jan. 19 flight. The first four finishers ended up only ¾ of a length apart, with Mysterious Stones running third. He actually held the lead at one point, but The Stiff and Wine and Whisky out-finished him, while Ajourneytofreedom came up only a head behind Mysterious Stones. With the stretch out in distance, this horse is likely to fade a little more at the end. Toss.

6. Final Final, 15-1 (Daredevil – Bill McLean/Kevin Krigger – 7: 1-2-1): He ran fifth in the same local allowance race, 2 ¾ lengths behind The Stiff. On the plus side, two races ago Final Final did finish second to Indian Peak in another optional claimer, with Sacred Rider in third. But even if Final Final put up his best race this weekend, the fact he only owns one win from seven starts is a negative sign. Use underneath.

7. Sacred Rider, 10-1 (Lucky Pulpit – Steven Specht/Frank Alvarado – 9: 1-3-1): Is this gelding better on dirt? At Santa Anita, he put up the best effort of his career in the California Cup Derby, only losing by a neck to Fast Enough. Fast Enough backed up the strong effort by finishing a closing third in the San Vicente Stakes. In four starts on local synthetic, though, Sacred Rider ran third, second, fifth and seventh. In fairness, the board-hitting efforts were good. But it’s tough to play him on top without a synthetic win. Use underneath.

8. Ajourneytofreedom, 6-1 (Hard Spun – Blaine Wright/Ricky Gonzalez – 4: 1-1-0): Because he is a half-brother to last year’s El Camino Real Derby winner, Anothertwistafate, the value won’t be there. Bettors tend to gravitate toward familiar pedigrees and connections, and this one hits the checkmark in both categories. He did run OK in the aforementioned Jan. 19 optional claimer, finishing fourth by ¾ of a length. He also broke his maiden locally with American Farmer third. He had no excuse to lose last time, though. Toss.

9. Azul Coast, 3-1 (Super Saver – Bob Baffert/Rafael Bejarano – 2: 1-1-0): Unlike most of these horses, Azul Coast competed at Los Alamitos and Santa Anita in his first two starts. In the latter race, he was a distant second by 7 ¾ lengths to Authentic in the Sham Stakes (G3). With a weak local group lined up here, perhaps all it takes is a decent Santa Anita-based runner to mow them down. Win contender.

10. Czechmight, 5-1 (Street Sense – Rodolphe Brisset/Jose Valdiva Jr. – 2: 1-0-0): After breaking his maiden at Keeneland last October, this colt sold for $190,000 and transferred to the Richard Baltas barn at Santa Anita. Now he ships up here for his first try over synthetic, and it is unclear how he will fare for the new barn. For what it is worth, the dam, Czechers, did pick up a gate-to-wire win over Del Mar’s old Polytrack in 2008, and this isn’t the strongest spot for his return to the races. Use underneath.

11. The Stiff, 6-1 (Danza – Michael McCarthy/Julien Couton – 7: 2-0-1): He did defeat a few of these down in the Jan. 19 race, including Wine and Whisky, Mysterious Stones and Ajourneytofreedom. He also came from farther off the pace than those three runners. It is a negative that the connections put The Stiff in a maiden claimer three starts ago at Del Mar, albeit a high-priced one. Overall, he probably deserves some consideration based on his last start. Win contender.

Given Ajourneytofreedom will attract money based on his pedigree and connections, it will help make the odds on most of the others fair.

Notice how Juan Hernandez stuck with Indian Peak. He won this race a year ago on Anothertwistafate, and the same connections campaign Ajourneytofreedom, who Hernandez rode in his last start.

A win bet on Indian Peak at 4-1 or higher is one idea, or perhaps an exacta box with Indian Peak, Azul Coast and The Stiff will work.


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