By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile
With a heavy favorite on the Triple Crown Trail already beaten at Santa Anita today, Silver Medallion pulled off another upset about an hour later, taking the Grade III El Camino Real Derby.
Comma to the Top, made the 1-2 favorite, finished fourth after stalking the pace, then tiring. About the time that was happening, Silver Medallion surged to the lead to overtake pacesetter Jakesam and prevail by 1 1/4 length. Positive Response made a belated run that began on the second turn to get up for third. Formula Gold and Bluegrass Reward ran behind Comma to the Top to round out the six-horse field. Silver Medallion was timed in 1:50.45 for the 1 1/8 mile.
Ironically, Steve Asmussen, who had just lost the Grade II Robert B. Lewis with 1-5 Tapizar, trains Silver Medallion, proving once again that racing is a sport with its ups and downs.
Silver Medallion, ridden by the legendary Russell Baze, tracked in fourth as Jakesam set fractions of :23.84, :48.09 and 1:12.35. Comma to the Top ran two lengths behind Jakesam, followed for about a half-mile by Formula Gold. Positive Response, a late runner, bided his time at or near the back of the short field until they hit the far turn. Silver Medallion was beginning to surge, and when the field turned for home, he circled around; Positive Response ran between horses while being ridden. Both horses finished well, with Jakeam separating the two at the finish.
Baze has won the El Camino Real Derby six of the past seven years and eight times in the 30-year history of the race.
Silver Medallion took home $120,000 of the $200,000 purse to add to $4,334 he'd earned in off-the-board finishes in the Grade III With Anticipation and Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity last year. Most recently, Silver Medallion won the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf at Santa Anita on De.c 31.
The entry of the winner at Golden Gate was the first ever by Asmussen. After the race, Baze said he hoped the trainer would send a lot more horses there.
Silver Medallion, a Kentucky-bred son of Badge of Silver, is out of the Stalwart mare Another Vegetarian. Michael Ryan owns him; Brereton Jones bred him.
Winning rider Russell Baze; “He’s a nice little horse to ride. He’s real manageable. This horse made a nice, long, sustained move. I got up to Comma to the Top and he didn’t really answer the challenge. He let us go right by. I was surprised.”
Julien Couton, aboard Positive Response: “He was a little flat. Usually he’s more aggressive on the far turn. On the far turn today, I thought we were going to run last. He just ran even. Today he was a little bit too calm.”
Corey Nakatani, aboard Comma to the Top: “On the far turn, I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone. But then everything changed. I let him drift out to where I thought the best part of the track was. He just didn’t finish. I think the layoff might have had something to do with it. Hopefully this race will help him move forward.”