By Larry Stumes, San Francisco Gate
The National Racing Hall of Fame will be well-represented in the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.
Hall of Fame jockeys Mike Smith, Kent Desormeaux and Alex Solis will be up from Santa Anita for the track’s premier race — along with Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Drayden Van Dyke. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a stakes race in the Bay Area without our own Hall of Famers, jockey Russell Baze and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
In post-position order, the field drawn Wednesday for the 11/8-mile event for 3-year-olds consists of Donji (jockey Pedro Terrero, morning-line odds of 30-1), Indianaughty (Corey Lanerie, 4-1), Metaboss (Solis, 8-1), Ernest Shackleton (Van Dyke, 8-1), Cross the Line (Juan Hernandez, 5-1), Harmonic (Ricardo Gonzalez, 20-1), Soul Driver (Dennis Carr, 6-1), Stand and Salute (Baze, 6-1), Conquest Typhoon (Smith, 7-2) and Mischief Clem (Desormeaux, 9-2).
Cross the Line, Soul Driver and Stand and Salute finished 1-2-3 in the California Derby on Jan. 17, and Stand and Salute won the Gold Rush Stakes. Hollendorfer trains Cross the Line and Stand and Salute along with Harmonic, who broke his maiden going 11/8 miles Jan. 16 in his only start on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings synthetic surface.
All entrants but Donji, winless after seven starts in maiden-claiming events, and Irish-bred Ernest Shackleton, who won his second U.S. start, are nominated to the Triple Crown.
Conquest Typhoon is the only graded stakes winner in the field, taking the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar and the Canadian Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine — both on grass last year.
“I wouldn’t totally rule out the Kentucky Derby, but we have some concerns about how far he wants to go,” trainer Mark Casse said of Conquest Typhoon, who has excelled in 1-mile races.
Indianaughty ships in from Gulfstream Park, where he won an allowance race on grass Jan. 15. Metaboss also comes off of a victory on grass, taking a 11/8-mile maiden event in his fourth start Jan. 4 at Santa Anita. Grass horses historically have performed well on Tapeta.
“It took him a while until we extended him in distance to show his talent,” said Jeff Bonde, who trains Metaboss. “His last race was really strong; he just exploded the last eighth of a mile. He’s had a series of nice workouts and he’ll have a Hall of Fame jockey, so we think we have a fair chance at it.”