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2023 El Camino Real Derby Preview & FREE Picks | Local Hero Passarando, 2 Baffert Horses Among Field
Passarando (Vassar Photography)

2023 El Camino Real Derby Preview & FREE Picks | Local Hero Passarando, 2 Baffert Horses Among Field

Mike previews the 2023 El Camino Real Derby from Golden Gate Fields, then gives his top picks & long shots from this 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race that also awards the winner a free entry into the 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of American horse racing’s Triple Crown. Trainer Bob Baffert’s 2 horses – Gilmore and Nullarbor – join local stakes champion Passarando among the field of 8; who wins? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

A field of eight has been assembled for the 2023 edition of the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby for 3-years-old at one mile and an eighth on the Tapeta main track at Golden Gate Fields. The winner of the El Camino Real Derby receives a free berth into the 2023 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and 10 Kentucky Derby points if eligible to receive said points.

Trainer Bob Baffert won the 2022 El Camino Real Derby with Blackadder. This year, the Hall of Fame conditioner sends out a pair of contenders in Gilmore and Nullarbor. Gilmore, a $250,000 sale purchase by Twirling Candy, was last seen breaking his maiden in a one-mile dirt race on December 10 at Los Alamitos. Nullarbor, a son of Candy Ride acquired as a yearling for $500,000, was a decisive sprint winner on January 6 at Santa Anita. Both Baffert contenders are owned by a large group that includes SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables LLC. Jose Valdivia Jr. rides Gilmore while Assael Espinoza has the call aboard Nullarbor.

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Prominent owner/breeders Larry and Marianne Williams campaign multiple stakes winning gelding Passarando. As a 2-year-old last fall, the son of Tamarando was victorious in the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita and the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate. In his most recent afternoon appearance, Passarando finished third in the California Cup Derby. Veteran rider Frank Alvarado will be in the saddle for the first time for trainer Steve Specht.

Chase the Chaos has only improved since moving to the Tapeta and trained Ed Moger Jr.’s barn last fall. The Pennsylvania-bred by Astern finished as the runner up behind Passarando in the Gold Rush Stakes and returned in his first start of 2023 to score a smashing seven and a half-length runaway victory against first level allowance foes. Regular rider Armando Ayuso retains the mount for owners Bill Dory and Adam Ference.

Happy Does is another legit contender. Bred by owners Gray Farms Inc., the dark bay colt has wracked off a pair of first level allowance victories in recent starts and bumps up in class for his first try against stakes competition. Trainer Felix Rondan and jockey Santos Rivera team up with the gelding son of Southern Image.

Harcyn makes his route debut for trainer Steve Sherman and owner/breeder Jerry Moss after a pair of convincing sprint victories. In each race, Harcyn went to the lead and hit the wire three- and three-quarter lengths ahead of the runner up finisher. Bay Area mainstay William Antongeorgi III has been atop the son of Goldencents in both lifetime starts and has the call in the 2023 El Camino Real Derby.

Sea Dog finished third behind Happy Does, only beaten a length and a quarter, in a January 21st allowance race and faces the toughest field of his career. In Honor of Autism makes his route debut after a pair of sprint wins against starter allowance company and rounds out the field.

Nine races comprise the El Camino Real Derby card. First post is 1:15 PM PT. The El Camino Real Derby goes as the eighth race on the program, with post time at approximately 4:45 PM.

The $100,000 El Camino Real Derby

  1. Gilmore (Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr…Trainer Bob Baffert)
  2. Chase the Chaos (Armando Ayuso…Ed Moger Jr.) 
  3. Happy Does (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan) 
  4. Passarando (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht) 
  5. Harcyn (William Antongeorgi III…Steve Sherman) 
  6. In Honor of Autism (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong) 
  7. Sea Dog (Francisco Monroy…O.J. Jauregui) 
  8. Nullarbor (Assael Espinoza…Bob Baffert) 

Race 8 on Saturday, February 11 at 9 furlongs on Tapeta