Allaboutaction flubbed his stakes debut in the December 5 Gold Rush S., but the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil promises to be ready for action in Saturday’s $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The 1 1/16-mile contest is the local prep for the February 13 El Camino Real Derby (G3).

A full brother to Grade 3 winner Looking Cool, Allaboutaction brought $200,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The Candy Ride gelding has been favored in each of his three starts, and twice justified his status. After romping by nine lengths in his debut sprinting here October 31, he stretched out to a mile in the Gold Rush and tired to fourth behind Mana Strike, Algenon and Marqula. That had nothing to do with the distance, since Allaboutaction came right back to land a December 26 allowance at a mile, beating Marqula and Algenon.

So what happened in the Gold Rush?

 “He just blew up and didn’t act right in the paddock,” Hollendorfer told Golden Gate publicity. “We got him settled down (in the allowance race) and he did a lot better.”

Allaboutaction will try to give Hollendorfer his fifth straight California Derby. According to Golden Gate, the Hall of Fame horsemen has won seven of the past 10 runnings, and eight overall. Fellow Hall of Famer Russell Baze has the return call aboard the 5-2 chance, who’ll flash his customary speed from post 3.

Southern California shipper Frank Conversation, a stablemate of presumptive champion Nyquist, has been installed as the 2-1 favorite. The Reddam Racing colorbearer broke his maiden sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita and finished third in the November 29 Cecil B. DeMille (G3) on the Del Mar turf. The DeMille runner-up, Collected, just switched to dirt to take the Sham (G3), providing a nifty form boost. Frank Conversation exits a fifth in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on dirt, but given his proclivity for turf, he could be right at home on the Tapeta. Mario Gutierrez makes the journey north for trainer Doug O’Neill.

Also coming up from Santa Anita are Canada and Go Long. Canada, hailing from the Simon Callaghan barn, has spent his whole career on the turf so far. The $500,000 son of Giant’s Causeway has yet to make his presence felt in stakes company, finishing sixth in the DeMille and fourth in the Eddie Logan. Perhaps Canada is the type to find himself on this third surface. The Keith Desormeaux-trained Go Long, in contrast, has been well beaten on turf and dirt, and must have class concerns at this point.

Mana Strike is the most accomplished of the locals, having rolled from last to first in the Gold Rush. Two-for-two at this track, the Frank Lucarelli trainee sustained his only loss when sixth in the Golden State Juvenile on Del Mar’s dirt two back.

“I knew he’d route and that he likes this track,” Lucarelli said of his Gold Rush success. “(The Gold Rush) was a tough race, but the race set up well for him, and he ran well. When we (were training him at Emerald Downs in the summer) we didn’t know if he could run or not. His knees were open, so we gave him time and started him in California. The plan always was to run him here.” 

Algenon and Marqula are both genuine and consistent types who are logical exotics players, but are a bit too exposed to view as win candidates.

A fresh new face is here in the form of He’s a Tiger. With a name reminiscent of 2013 champion 2-year-old filly She’s a Tiger, it stands to reason that he has part ownership in common as well as the same trainer in Jeff Bonde. The name could be a tip-off to his ability, for the Sky Mesa colt has won both of his starts sprinting. Unlike She’s a Tiger, He’s a Tiger could have a greater aptitude for routing, both on pedigree and in light of his sharp rally from off a hot pace last time. Note that high-percentage jockey Juan Hernandez sticks with He’s a Tiger, rather than stablemate Marqula.

Allaboutaction photo courtesy of Golden Gate Fields via Twitter.