The top three-year-olds in Northern California take the stage in the El Camino Real Derby on Saturday, February 11! As a rare Kentucky Derby prep on the synthetic, it always draws an eclectic field, making it one of the best betting horse races of February. The spoils are rich: $100,000, 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the top five finishers and an automatic berth in the Preakness for the winner!
In 2021, Rombauer used that Preakness bid to full effect when he shipped out to Baltimore and won the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Other El Camino Real winners have shined in the Preakness, too. Tank’s Prospect (1985), California hero Snow Chief (1986), and Tabasco Cat (1994) all won both races, and Tabasco Cat also won the Belmont Stakes as well.
Who will join this list in 2023? Keep reading to find out!
El Camino Real Derby Contenders
These are the contenders for the 2023 El Camino Real Derby, along with their trainers:
Chase the Chaos (Ed Moger, Jr.)
De La Luna (Quinn Howey)
GIlmore (Bob Baffert)
Happy Does (Felix Rondan)
Harcyn (Steve Sherman)
Mother’s Prayer (Steven Specht)
Nullarbor (Bob Baffert)
Passarando (Steven Specht)
Sea Dog (O. J. Jauregui)
Thirsty John (Peter Miller)
Morning lines, jockeys, and post positions will be released closer to the race. When they are released, the morning lines will be Golden Gate’s best estimate of post-time odds. You are not guaranteed those odds when you get to the track. Instead, assure yourself of the best Vegas odds on the El Camino Real Derby by betting the race online at a trusted sportsbook. They let you lock in true Vegas odds on major races when you bet!
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Now that you have made your account to bet horse races online, it’s time to get to know the horses. Let’s get to know the best horses in the 2023 El Camino Real Derby.
El Camino Real Derby Contenders
Passarando ran a credible third in the Cal Cup Derby on dirt at Santa Anita last. However, the best of his form has come on the Tapeta, which he comes home to in this. With plenty of speed likely in the race, his pace versatility will be a great tool. And, being by Tamarando out of a Lucky Pulpit mare, he has one of the better pedigrees among the probable for nine furlongs.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won two of the last three editions of the El Camino Real and has two likely this year. Gilmore is by far the more appealing. He woke up for a good maiden win at Los Alamitos the first time he tried two turns, overcoming some early trouble to do so, and sire Twirling Candy is a great synthetic influence. Nullarbor, his other will be part of the early speed; he also needed to drop for a tag to graduate.
Take a stand against Thirsty John. People will bet on him because Peter Miller is a “name” trainer in Southern California, but Miller has never won the El Camino Real. Furthermore, he is a speed horse, he will have a lot of company on the front end, and he has never stepped outside of a California-bred company before.
El Camino Real Derby Exotics Horses
Chase the Chaos was 65-1 two starts ago in the Gold Rush, almost absurd given that he ran a decent third in the local prep. He rallied for a good second behind Passarando and followed that up with an authoritative allowance score going a mile at Golden Gate. He should get a good pace setup to finish well from midpack, and being out of an Uncle Mo mare, he has a chance to get the distance.
Happy Does finished a distant second behind Chase the Chaos in that allowance race on December 30 but returned on January 21 to win at that same level and one-mile distance. His pace versatility and love for the Tapeta surface give him a chance to run a good race, though with tables to turn on both Passarando and Chase the Chaos, he will need to improve to be more than an underneath candidate.
Though Harcyn will likely be one of the pace horses, he has enough upside to play with in exotics. He handled a pressured pace to graduate in his October 30 debut; he returned off a lay to win January 16 in allowance company and can move forward second-up. This will be his first time trying two turns, but being by Goldencents out of a half to Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, he has every chance to love the distance.
2023 El Camino Real Derby Expert Picks
Here are your best bets for the 2023 El Camino Real Derby!
$20 to win – Passarando
$1 exacta key – Passarando with Chase the Chaos, Gilmore
$0.50 trifecta key – Passarando with Chase the Chaos, Gilmore, Happy Does
$0.20 superfecta key – Passarando with Chase the Chaos, Gilmore, Happy Does, Harcyn
For 10 years, Rowan Ward has been handicapping and betting horses in Chicago. For almost as long, they has also been writing about horse racing. They are aware that the best handicapping approaches for a given race rely on a variety of variables, but they frequently discover that the proverb "the pace makes the race" can yield profitable betting opportunities. Local Chicago races, national stakes races, and two-year-old maiden races with intriguing pedigrees are some of their favorite events to handicap.