February 28, 2021

Azul Coast ships north for El Camino Real Derby

Eleven 3-year-olds were entered in Saturday’s $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, but only three were early nominees to the Triple Crown. Two figure among the top tier of candidates in the 1 1/8-mile event on the Tapeta that will award both Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points and, to the winner, an automatic bid to the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico.

Only Triple Crown nominees can accrue Derby qualifying points and the Preakness bid, a position shared by Azul Coast and Czechmight. Azul Coast, a Super Saver colt trained by Bob Baffert, is the likely favorite off his form in Southern California, where he broke his maiden by four lengths at Los Alamitos and followed up with a distant second-place finish behind stablemate Authentic in the Sham (G3) on Jan. 4.

Czechmight, also by a former Kentucky Derby winner in Street Sense, makes his debut for Richard Baltas on Saturday. A distant fourth in his debut at Ellis Park, Czechmight rebounded second out at Keeneland where he led wire-to-wire, graduating by a head for then-trainer Rodolphe Brisset. The colt has not raced since that Oct. 13 maiden, though.

The third current Triple Crown nominee in the field is The Stiff, who rallied to defeat Wine and Whisky and Mysterious Stones in a Jan. 19 entry-level allowance in his first try over the Golden Gate strip.

Indian Peak disappointed in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita last month when trying dirt for the first time, but was a convincing 2 1/2-length allowance winner over the Tapeta in late December and could bounce back to that form. Sacred Rider, beaten a neck in the California Cup Derby, was third to Indian Peak in the aforementioned allowance, but had previously placed in the one-mile Gold Rush S. earlier in December.

The Kentucky Derby points distribution for the El Camino Real Derby is 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.