01/08/2013 12:24PM

Golden Gate: California Derby Plan B for Condiment


Trainer Joe Brook didn’t originally plan to run Condiment in Saturday’s $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields, but the best-laid plans of mice, men, and trainers often go awry.

Although he has three times finished second in stakes, Condiment has never crossed the finish line first. His lone victory came in a Sept. 27 maiden race at Sacramento when Wildcat Moon edged him by a nose and was disqualified.

But prior to that, Condiment ran second to Zeewat in the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at Santa Rosa in his debut. Immediately after the DQ win, he ran second to Fury Kapcori in the Charlie Palmer Futurity in Fresno. In his last start, he ran second Zeewat in the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Brook wanted to run the Peppered Cat gelding on the grass and sent him to Santa Anita to run in the one-mile Eddie Logan on the turf Dec. 29.

Rain forced the race onto the main track, and Condiment was scratched.

“I want to run him on the turf with that Peppered Cat breeding and the fact that he acts like he wants to go on the turf with his running style,” said Brook, who bred Condiment with longtime client and friend Joe Negri and owns the gelding with Evelyn Negri. “When they took the race off the turf, I didn’t want to run him over that track because it gets pretty hard when it rains.”

Although he’s concerned because he’s “one work behind” with Condiment, Brook said he will run Condiment in the 1 1/16-mile California Derby.

Condiment had his first listed work Sunday since the Dec. 8 Gold Rush, going six furlongs in 1:14.20, the second best of 19 such works on the day.

“I thought it was a regular work for him,” Brook said. “He worked by himself and he pulled up strong. I told my rider to let him gallop out real strong, and he wasn’t breathing hard when he got back to the barn. I had two-minute-licked him down at Santa Anita.”

Of course now that he is committed to the California Derby, Brook says the new Santa Anita condition book lists a first-condition allowance race on the turf for Jan. 17, which would have been perfect for Condiment.

As for the California Derby, Brook predicts it “won’t come up that tough.”

Brook could be right on that count. Early in the week, the only confirmed runners were Zeewat, Condiment, and My Best Bet, who finished 1-2-3 in the Gold Rush; the stakes winner Tree of Life from Southern California, and the stakes-winning filly Butterfly Soul.

Pleasanton contest

The Pleasanton simulcast facility is starting a free “Race for the Kentucky Derby” contest this week. Fans must submit their entries onsite.

Fans create a six-horse stable and receive points based on placings in Derby preps. They are allowed to make changes in their fantasy stable four times before the Derby, but all changes must be made at the Pleasanton simulcast facility.

Grand prize is a two-day stay at Jackson Rancheria. Betting vouchers also will be given away.

Dennis Miller and Don August will conduct a handicapping seminar at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, the day the California Derby will be run at Golden Gate Fields.

◗ Each fan attending Golden Gate Fields for the California Derby on Saturday will receive a free umbrella.