A field of nine three-year-olds will go postward Saturday in the 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby, carrying a purse of $100,000 and 17 Kentucky Derby points with 10 to the winner.
Choo Choo will be a local favorite after winning the California Derby at the track, and he preceded that by finishing third in The Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita in December. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is owned by Calumet Farm and has been training at Golden Gate Fields since the California Derby victory. He will be ridden, once again, by Juan Hernandez.
Other local contenders include California Derby runner-up Mugaritz, multiple allowance winner Could Be the One, and recent starter allowance victor Unlawful Act.
Several Southern California invaders will try to add a stakes win to their resume.
Paved, a filly facing boys, comes off a dominating 5 1/2-length score against maiden special weight company on turf. Paved was purchased for $320,000 as a 2-year-old and is trained by Michael McCarthy.
Blended Citizen, conditioned by Doug O’Neill, ran fourth behind Choo Choo in the Eddie Logan and is scheduled to make his 2018 debut in the El Camino Real Derby.
Rounding out the Southern California entrants are the Vladimir Cerin trained Calexman, who broke his maiden on Nov. 24 at Del Mar, and Epical, wheeling back after winning his first career start for trainer James Cassidy three weeks ago.
City Plan, a Godolphin homebred, is an interesting contender from the Eoin Harty barn. The son of Street Sense ships up to Golden Gate Fields after a poor showing in the Sham Stakes against Kentucky Derby hopeful McKinzie. City Plan won the Gold Rush Stakes over the Golden Gate Tapeta two starts ago and defeated Ayacara, a runner that came back to run second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, February 3.
Of the nine entrants, six will be ridden by Southern California jockeys. Making the trip to Golden Gate Fields from Santa Anita are Drayden Van Dyke (aboard Paved), Kyle Frey (Blended Citizen), Tyler Conner (City Plan), Alonso Quinonez (Calexman), Tiago Pereira (Epical), and Mario Gutierrez (Mugaritz).
The El Camino Real Derby goes as Race 7 on the nine race card, with a scheduled post time of 6:45 ET.
Entries in post position order with morning line:
1 Paved (Michael McCarthy/Drayden Van Dyke) 2-1
2 Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill/Kyle Frey) 4-1
3 Could Be the One (Jack Steiner/William Antongeorgi III) 12-1
4 Choo Choo (Jerry Hollendorfer/Juan Hernandez) 9-5
5 City Plan (Eoin Harty/Tyler Conner) 15-1
6 Calexman (Vladimir Cerin/Alonso Quinonez) 20-1
7 Epical (James Cassidy/Tiago Pereira) 10-1
8 Unlawful Act (Matthew Troy/Cristobal Herrera) 30-1
9 Mugaritz (Jonathan Wong/Mario Gutierrez) 10-1
Edited Golden Gate Fields release with additional content by Dick Downey