Why I'm Betting Eagle Song in the El Camino Real Derby

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 14th, 2019

The last few years have certainly been tough sledding for local runners in the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Not even their proven experience over a synthetic Tapeta track unique to California has been enough to give the Northern California locals an edge over their Southern California counterparts. Seemingly every year, an experienced turf horse from Santa Anita and/or Del Mar ships up to Golden Gate Fields and walks away with the winner’s share of the purse, 10 Kentucky Derby qualification points, and a free berth to the Preakness Stakes.

It’s possible that we could see an exception to that trend in the 2019 El Camino Real Derby this Saturday. #4 Anothertwistafate seems like a talented colt with a bright future after posting two wins from two starts at Golden Gate, including an easy five-length score in an allowance optional claiming race last month. He’s proven around two turns, has plenty of tactical speed, and is a son of Scat Daddy, who has already sired two previous El Camino Real Derby winners. What’s not to like?

On the other hand, some of the turf horses shipping up from Santa Anita look formidable. #2 King of Speed won the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes and the Zuma Beach Stakes last year, both going a mile, and I can forgive his defeats in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) and the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I)—he was facing tough competition while racing over surfaces (yielding turf and fast dirt) that he probably didn’t care for.

But a runner who might be just as talented—while offering better odds as well—is #7 Eagle Song, an Irish-bred son of No Nay Never conditioned by Mark Glatt. In his native country, Eagle Song was a capable if not overly remarkable competitor for trainer Aidan O’Brien, achieving his best form over the synthetic track at Dundalk, where he won two straight races at the end of 2018.

Eagle Song is 0-for-2 since arriving in the U.S., but you can’t really knock his performances. He kicked off his three-year-old season by finishing fourth in an allowance race over the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, then stretched out to a mile in another allowance race on February 1 and produced a gallant rally from behind a slow pace to finish second, beaten just 1 ¼ lengths. Over a turf course labeled “good,” Eagle Song managed to run the final quarter-mile in about :23 1/5, a promising fraction that suggests he could be very competitive while stretching out to nine furlongs (and hopefully encountering a quicker pace) in the El Camino Real Derby.

I’ll keep my wagering strategy simple, betting Eagle Song to win while keying him in the exacta and trifecta:

Update: With the scratch of Eagle Song, I'll favor King of Speed and Anothertwistafate in my wagers instead.

$3 exacta: 2,4 with 2,4,9,12 ($18) $1 trifecta: 2,4 with 2,4,9,12 with 2,4,9,12 ($12)

Good luck!