February 28, 2024

Endlessly closes well in last El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields

Endlessly wins the last El Camino Real Derby held at Golden Gate Fields (Photo by Ronnie Wackerly/Vassar Photography)

With Golden Gate Fields conducting its final meeting before closing down June 9, a valedictory air surrounded Saturday’s $101,350 El Camino Real Derby. As 7-10 favorite Endlessly rallied late to prevail, his name could be read as a bit of historic irony – or perhaps hope that Northern California’s long-standing feature on the Triple Crown trail can find a new home on a revamped circuit.

Endlessly gave trainer Michael McCarthy his third El Camino Real Derby winner, after the filly Paved (2018) and Rombauer (2021). Rombauer went on to capture the Preakness (G1) and placed third in the Belmont (G1), in a faint echo of the El Camino Real Derby’s formerly major role as a classic prep.

While the El Camino honor roll includes classic winners Tank’s Prospect (1985), Snow Chief (1986), and Tabasco Cat (1994), its placed runners have been notable as well. Charismatic, runner-up in the 1999 edition, would famously upset the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness en route to Horse of the Year honors. Gate Dancer (1984) and Hawkster (1989) are other memorable names who picked up minor awards in the El Camino Real Derby in its heyday on dirt. The switch to a synthetic surface came after the race was already beginning to decline.

If Endlessly can restore some luster, he would so as he reverts to turf. Although the colt is Triple Crown nominated, and the El Camino offers a free pass to the Preakness, Blood-Horse reports that McCarthy doesn’t plan to pursue the Rombauer path.

Indeed, the Amerman Racing homebred had hitherto raced exclusively on the grass. An impressive winner of his first three starts, including the Del Mar Juvenile Turf and Zuma Beach (G3), Endlessly lost his perfect mark when eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). But he wasn’t beaten far, just 3 1/2 lengths, and he arrived at Golden Gate as the class of the field.

Patiently handled by Umberto Rispoli, Endlessly relaxed near the back of the pack as a solid pace unfolded in fractions of :23.05 and :47.61 on the Tapeta. Fellow Santa Anita shipper Tapalo, who had been perched in third, made a bold early move to take command and went clear passing six furlongs in 1:13.04.

Tapalo maintained a 2 1/2-length margin to midstretch, when Endlessly rocketed into contention on the outside. The son of Oscar Performance surged past by 1 1/4 lengths and finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.68.

Guy Named Joe closed from last to grab third, completing a trifecta for the Southern California invaders. Old Triangle, Grogu, Come Out Fighting, Arctic Breeze, and Wild Jewels rounded out the order in the strung-out field.

Now 4-for-5, Endlessly has bankrolled $299,200. The Kentucky-bred is out of Dream Fuhrever, an unraced daughter of Langfuhr and Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Society Dream. This is the immediate family of Grade 1-winning millionaire Coffee Clique and multiple Grade 3 victor Admission Office.