02/13/2014 12:08PM

Golden Gate: Enterprising heads strong trio in El Camino Real Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Enterprising, with Gary Stevens riding, wins the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita.

Eight 3-year-olds take what could be their first step toward Kentucky on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in the 33rd running of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. On the line in the 1 1/8-mile race are a $200,000 purse and 17 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including 10 to the winner.

“We’re at a ‘Y’ in the road,” said trainer Frank Lucarelli, who will saddle the improving Infosec, who finished third, beaten two lengths, in the California Derby on Jan. 18.

Infosec is one of three runners listed at 10-1 on the morning line, but the race also is a fork in the road for the favored trio.

Enterprising is listed as the morning-line favorite at 5-2 after finishing second to undefeated Exit Stage Left in the California Derby. Tamarando, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, is 3-1. Dance With Fate, who split decisions with Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity and Grade 1 FrontRunner at Santa Anita, is listed at 7-2.

Rounding out the field are Craftsman and Puppy Manners at 8-1 and I’ll Wrap It Up and the Bob Baffert-trained maiden Icy Ride, who are listed at 10-1 along with Infosec.

[El Camino Real Derby: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Exit Stage Left suffered some slight fraying in a tendon after a work last Saturday and will miss the race, but his trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, sends out Tamarando and Puppy Manners.

Hollendorfer said he is not entering Tamarando simply because Exit Stage Left, who has won stakes in each of his three starts, is sidelined.

“We were considering this race for him all along, that’s why we nominated him,” Hollendorfer said of Tamarando, a son of Bertrando owned by his breeders, Larry and Marianne Williams.

Tamarando has a win and two thirds in three Grade 1 races and comes into this off a second in the Cal Cup Derby on Jan. 25 at Santa Anita.

Tamarando does his running from off the pace, a style that doesn’t play well at Santa Anita but can be favorable at Golden Gate Fields.

“The owner didn’t want to run at Santa Anita because the colt doesn’t seem to close as well there,” Hollendorfer said.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Russell Baze, Exit Stage Left’s regular rider, will ride Tamarando.

“I don’t know anything about him, so I’ll rely on Jerry to let me know his little idiosyncrasies,” Baze said. “I’ve watched all his races, though, and he actually sat a little closer than usual in the Del Mar Futurity.”

Enterprising, second as the favorite in the California Derby when coming off a victory in the Eddie Logan on the turf at Santa Anita, will have Gary Stevens back aboard Saturday. Stevens had a commitment to Mucho Macho Man, so Aaron Gryder rode the Elusive Quality colt in the California Derby.

Though Enterprising ran second, Gryder was impressed with how hard he tried down the lane.

“He ran good,” trainer Tom Proctor said. “He’s maturing, but he hasn’t made that really big step forward yet.”

Stevens is Proctor’s No. 1 rider and was aboard Enterprising in his first three starts.

“Gary and I have good karma. We have good luck together,” said Proctor who wins at a 28-percent clip with Stevens in the saddle.

Dance With Fate could be tough. He was the runner-up in both the Del Mar Futurity, when he trailed Tamarando throughout and couldn’t catch him, and the FrontRunner, when he had a stalking trip and Tamarando couldn’t catch him.

He ran eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but won a comeback race on the turf Jan. 24 at Santa Anita after 11 weeks on the sidelines.

Gryder gets the call on Dance With Fate for trainer Peter Eurton.

The race does not appear to have much pace. I’ll Wrap It Up could inherit the lead, and Enterprising should be able to sit in good position right off him.