Golden Gate Field: The GIII, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 10-4-2-1)
With synthetic racing going out of flavor in recent years, there’s little doubt that Golden Gate’s signature Kentucky Derby prep has followed suit, but if nothing else, this year’s renewal offers a deep, competitive and robust field of 14 sophomores looking to make a dent on the Triple Crown Trail.
Experience over the local oval is never a bad thing, so it’s no surprise that #12 FRANK CONVERSATION rates top billing for Doug O’Neill, especially after he dominated the local prep, the California Derby, last month. The post works, too, for this son of Quality Road, as he’s tactical, will like the added ground, and should sit an ideal trip off some stretch-out sprinters.
Looking for a price underneath might be the right way to go, especially with chalk on top, so don’t ignore #5 OSCAR DOMINGUEZ (IRE), who makes his first U.S. start for Paddy Gallagher and sure looked good breaking his maiden in convincing fashion over the synthetic at Dundalk when last seen in December. A well-bred son of Zoffany (IRE), he adds Lasix, seems to have a midpack running style, and will like the distance; dropping nine pounds won’t hurt, either.
The main danger to the favorite looks like #2 KASSEOPIA (GB), who makes his first start since October and first start for Graham Motion after progressing as a 2yo and running well to be second to heavyweight Riker in his lone North American start in Woodbine’s GIII Grey. The son of Showcasing (GB) is another who adds Lasix, and you have to think Motion had this spot in mind all along.
Leaving local legend Jerry Hollendorfer out is never wise at GG, so the speedy #4 MR. COKER could get a piece, as he stretches out past seven furlongs for the first time and could be the speed of the speed. He’s bred for this trip, as dad Candy Ride (ARG) excelled going long, and if he catches a flier and clears—admittedly a big if—he could get brave off the far turn.
#12 Frank Conversation
#5 Oscar Dominguez (IRE)
#2 Kasseopia (GB)
#4 Mr. Coker