BERKELEY, CA – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman’s Azul Coast dueled sharply in the stretch before grinding home a score in Saturday’s $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.
Breaking from post 9 under Rafael Bejarano as the 6/5 favorite, Azul Coast sat outside of his rivals in fourth during much of the early running. Up front, fellow southern California invader Czechmight posted opening fractions of :24.15, :49.13, and 1:14.14.
Commencing a three-wide rally off of the far turn, Azul Coast reached the pacesetter in mid-stretch and dug in determinedly to take the lead. Indian Peak and American Farmer made bids on his outside, but Azul Coast’s class prevailed in the late stages.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Azul Coast crossed 1 1/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:51.58 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast synthetic main track.
“I figured he would get a good trip,” Bejarano said. “He was going well the entire time under me and he showed me a real nice kick when (American Farmer) tried to come get us at the 1/16 pole.”
American Farmer rallied from last in the field of 11 to take second by a 1/2-length over American Farmer. Wine and Whisky took fourth, The Stiff fifth, and Sacred Rider headed Ajourneytofreedom for sixth.
Czechmight weakened steadily in the stretch to finish eighth, while behind him came Final Final, Mysterious Stones, and Praise Loudly to complete the order of finish.
The El Camino Real Derby is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Azul Coast earned 10 points for the win, with American Farmer receiving 4 for second, Indian Peak 2 for third, and Wine and Whisky 1 for fourth.
Azul Coast’s win was his second in three starts – all at different tracks – having broken his maiden on debut at Los Alamitos before finishing second in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. The 3-year-old son of Super Saver, purchased for $320,000 as a yearling, has now earned $104,000.
Along with the 10 Kentucky Derby points, Azul Coast won an automatic entry into the Preakness Stakes (G1), the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Azul Coast returned $4.60 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. American Farmer brought back $11.40 to place and $5.80 to show, while Indian Peak paid $3.40 to show.