El Camino Real Derby | Race Profile

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El Camino Real Derby

How to bet the El Camino Real

The El Camino Real Derby (G2) is a 1 1/8 mile race for 3-year-olds held at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California. The $200,000 race in mid-February has been held at Golden Gate since 2009, and is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a 10-4-2-1 points system awarded to the top-4 finishers. The race is one of just two Derby prep races held on a synthetic main track, and bettors need to recognize that when handicapping the race. 

The El Camino Derby has been dominated by late runners that rally from off the pace. In fact, since 2009, not a single front-runner or speed horse has won the race. In addition, the race has not been kind to horses with good form on dirt racetracks. Previous success on turf, particularly at Santa Anita and/or Del Mar, has been a much better indicator of horses with a chance to thrive at Golden Gate Fields.

Golden Gate’s track surface is Tapeta, which is a synthetic surface made of sand, fiber, rubber and wax 4-7 inches above a porous asphalt surface. No need for trainers to use toe grabs, stickers, and mud caulks on their horses, as Tapeta handles the rain and eliminates race cancellations. However, the track can get a little heavy and deeper along the rail following rain, so watch the weather and post-position draw as the race nears.

In the 2017 edition, Zakaroff scored the second biggest upset in the 36-year history of the El Camino Real Derby, coming from off the pace to score a one-half-length victory as a 48-1 long shot. Locally-based runners swept the top three positions in the premier race for 3-year-olds at Golden Gate Fields. Zakaroff returned $99.60 on a $2 win wager, coming close to the record race payoff of $126 when Autism Awareness won the El Camino Real Derby in 2008 when the race was run at Bay Meadows.

The El Camino Real Derby has been contested at 1 1/8 miles since moving to Golden Gate in 2009, and the fastest time in the race since then is 1:49.92 by Metaboss in 2015. The race was previously run at 1 1/16 miles. Jockey Russell Baze won the race seven times since 2005, but he retired in 2016 following a 42-year riding career as the all-time winningest rider in U.S. Thoroughbred racing history. 


El Camino Race History

The El Camino Real Derby is one of the marquee staples of the Golden Gate Fields winter meet. Located in Northern California just outside of San Francisco, this race offers a chance for fans in the area to enjoy top level Thoroughbred racing and has done so since 1982. Most importantly, this is the premier destination for Kentucky Derby preparations in the region.

The race was previously hosted by Bay Meadows until 2008, before that track closed down.

The main surface at Golden Gate Fields is synthetic. More spefically, the synthetic surface is Tapeta which is also used at tracks like Woodbine in Canada.  It is a mixture of sand, fibre, rubber and wax.

The jockey with the most wins is Russell Blaze, who scored victories in 1984, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. Six of his wins were under the guidance of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Ruhlmann was clocked with the fastest time in 1988, running 1:39.40 over a distance of 1 1/8th miles. No other horse to date has been able to break the 1:40.00 ceiling.

Tank’s Prospect would win the El Camino Real Derby, and then go on to score in the Arkansas Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 1985. Incidentally, Snow Chief would do the same the following year but instead won the El Camino Real Derby on route to scoring in the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes in the 1986 campaign.

Tabasco Cat is considered the most successful winner to come out of the El Camino Real Derby, having won the 1994 renewal prior to winning the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes that same season. He may have also won the Kentucky Derby if not for a bad bump during the race.

These pathways are notable because there is a special $5,500,000 bonus awarded to those that win the El Camino Real Derby, Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes. An alternate $550,000 bonus is available for those that compete in the El Camino Derby, finish top-three in the Florida Derby or Santa Anita Derby and win the Preakness Stakes.

El Camino Real Derby Past Winners

Date Horse
2/17/2018 Paved
2/18/17 Zakaroff
2/13/16 Frank Conversation
2/14/15 Metaboss
2/15/14 Tamarando
2/16/13 Dice Flavor
2/18/12 Daddy Nose Best
2/12/11 Silver Medallion
2/20/10 Connemara
2/14/09 Chocolate Candy
3/8/08 Autism Awareness
3/10/07 Bwana Bull
1/29/06 Cause to Believe
3/12/05 Uncle Denny
3/13/04 Kilgowan
3/8/03 Ocean Terrace
3/9/02 Yougottawanna
3/10/01 Hoovergetthekeys
3/11/00 Remember Sheikh
3/6/99 Cliquot
3/7/98 Event of the Year
3/8/97 Pacificbounty
1/20/96 Cavonnier
1/14/95 Jumron (GB)
1/22/94 Tabasco Cat
1/23/93 El Atroz
1/25/92 Casual Lies
1/19/91 Sea Cadet
1/21/90 Silver Ending
1/15/89 Double Quick
1/24/88 Ruhlmann
2/1/87 Masterful Advocate
2/2/86 Snow Chief
2/3/85 Tank's Prospect
2/5/84 French Legionaire
2/5/83 Knightly Rapport
2/6/82 Cassaleria


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