02/17/2017 2:11PM

Free: How I'd play Golden Gate Fields and Turf Paradise for Saturday, Feb. 18


Maybe the rain will stop. Maybe the Saturday card at Santa Anita will be run under sunny skies, on surfaces that are fast and firm.

Maybe the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus will hit the pick six on a $2 ticket.

Although a $32,114 carryover is up for grabs Saturday, inclement weather brings uncertainty. Santa Anita canceled racing Friday, and conditions Saturday are unknown. It is likely to be wet, which would be fine for City Steel, mud-loving standout in race 6.

Rather than guess track condition at Santa Anita, and wonder if the 5-2 program price for City Steel holds, perhaps the best wagering opportunities Saturday are on the road. A pair of double-digit derby longshots at Golden Gate Fields and Turf Paradise offer appeal.

The Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby is the main attraction Saturday at Golden Gate; the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby also will be run Saturday. Upset candidates lurk in both.

El Camino Real Derby

From 2009 forward, the 1 1/18-mile El Camino Real Derby has been on synthetic; all eight winners previously had won on synthetic or turf.

What difference does it make? Neither program favorite for the 2017 El Camino Real Derby – Sheer Flattery and Ann Arbor Eddie – has started on synthetic or turf. All their starts have been on dirt. Furthermore, their form is less flashy than it appears. Two weeks ago, Sheer Flattery finished third in a Grade 3 at Santa Anita, a neck behind a maiden. Prior to that, Sheer Flattery won a maiden race over Honor and Courage, who returned to get drilled in a maiden race. Sheer Flattery, the 7-5 favorite in the El Camino Real Derby, might not be good as his figures indicate.

In successive starts, Ann Arbor Eddie wore down sprinter California Diamond in route stakes in Southern California. The wins were visually unappealing, though one must be careful to criticize a horse that has won 3 of 4.

Ann Arbor Eddie and Sheer Flattery are undervalued. And so is More Power to Him, whose 6-1 program price is wishful thought. He is likely to drop in price, having run second in the California Derby, the El Camino prep.

The longshot in the El Camino Real Derby is Colonel Samsen at 10-1. He already won a stakes on synthetic at Golden Gate, finished nowhere on a sloppy track at Santa Anita, and then returned to form with a good third in the California Derby.

Colonel Samsen has established form on synthetic, improving speed figures, and a license to spring an upset in the El Camino Real Derby.

Turf Paradise Derby

The favorites in this 1 1/16-mile dirt stake have borderline credentials. Mr Larson won a $25,000 claiming route at Santa Anita last out; Aberdeen Island won a maiden sprint last out on synthetic at Golden Gate.

Mr Larson at 3-1 and Aberdeen Island at 7-2 are undervalued.

Meanwhile, a longshot contender switches from turf to dirt. Most Determined, improving with each start, put it all together last out with a decisive maiden win on turf at Turf Paradise.

Was it the grass footing? Or is Most Determined simply getting good? He has started three times.

At 12-1 odds, the gamble is Most Determined is getting good.

Two geldings sired by Colonel John have a chance to outrun their odds Saturday – Colonel Samsen in race 7 at Golden Gate, Most Determined in race 7 at Turf Paradise.