For anyone who has never been to beautiful Northern California, I highly recommend it. While it lacks the stars, paparazzi, and fantasy land tales of Hollywood the Sierra Mountains make all the difference. Lake Tahoe isn’t so bad either. Near UCB is where you’ll find Golden Gate Fields. GGF currently serves as the only major race track in all of Northern California and on February 1, 2011 it officially began its 70th year of racing. Congratulations Golden Gate Fields.
California derby prep racing is two-fold this weekend, with our first focus being GGF’s staple stakes race the Grade III El Camino Real Derby. This year marks the 29th running of the El Camino Real. In the previous 28 runnings, the race has produced two KYD runners-up with Cavonnier (’96) & Casual Liesone (’92) and one Kentucky Derby Winner: Charismatic, (’99). For any horse and its connections with an eye on Kentucky, this race represents a huge stepping stone toward California’s biggest derby prep, the Santa Anita Derby. California may be a long way from the Bluegrass State, but a long travel east will not keep any horse from boldly moving forward for a chance to claim the roses.
Entries for the 2011 running were officially submitted this morning and a total of 7 horses will make the call to the post with the hope of moving one step closer to Churchill Downs. The expected early favorite that is getting everyone’s attention is Comma to the Top. With veteran rider Corey Nakatani in the irons, Comma to the Top deserves the attention after winning the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in December at Hollywood Park. Question is race fans, will this So. Cal based thoroughbred extend his win streak to 6 on Saturday?
Jockey’s have shown in the past that they are hard to beat on their home turf and this weekend will be no different. The meets leading jockey Russell Baze, winner of a record 7 El Camino Real Derbies, will be in the saddle aboard Silver Medallion. 2nd in the standings is Julien Couton. He will be riding Positive Response. With race distance of 1 1/8 mile on an all-weather track surface, expect California racing to get off to an interesting start.
El Camino Real Derby | 1 1/8 mi | 3 yr olds | Grade III Stakes | Purse $200,000
- Comma to the Top, C. Nakatani, P. Miller
- Bluegrass Reward, J. Hernandez, S. Miyadi
- Formula Gold, H. Romero, L. Mason
- Silver Medallion, R. Baze, S. Asmussen
- Positive Response, J. Couton, W. Morey
- Anthony’s Cross, A Gryder, E. Harty
- Jakesam, F. Alvarado, J. Hollendorfer
Good luck to all of the owners, trainers, jockeys and other connections of the seven starters this weekend. We hope that all of the horses finish strong and return to the barns in good health.
Written By: Little Brink