02/18/2012 11:41PM

Golden Gate Fields: Daddy Nose Best nips Lucky Chappy in El Camino Real

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Vassar Photo
Daddy Nose Best, on the rail under Julien Leparoux, noses out Lucky Chappy in the El Camino Real Derby.

ALBANY, Calif -- The aptly named Daddy Nose Best  won a stretch-long duel with Lucky Chappy to capture  the Grade 3, $201,300 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields by a nose.

The margin of victory was the smallest in 31 runnings of the race and reversed the finish between the two when Lucky Chappy ran fourth and Daddy Nose Best sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Daddy Nose Best ($10.20) settled into good position in the middle of the 10-horse field. He had no place to run as he moved up on leaders All Squared Away and favorite Handsome Mike on the turn.

At the quarter pole, jockey Julien Leparoux forced his way on Daddy Nose Best between a faltering All Squared Away and Lady of Fifty, ridden by Russell Baze, for an open path.

"When Russell began asking his filly at the three-eighths pole, I went a little bit and found a spot to get out," said Leparoux. "I was in the right position all the way around."

But Lucky Chappy, who was last through the opening half-mile, was flying up while five wide as Daddy Nose Best was making his move. Lucky Chappy had his head in front at the eighth pole. He and Daddy Nose Best dueled the final eighth of a mile in the 1 1/8-mile race with barely an inch separating them at the wire. The winning time was 1:50.46.

"It was nice to see this horse fight back," said Leparoux. "I don't know if either one really had a lead in the stretch. It was head-to-head all the way. It was too close to call."

Lucky Chappy's jockey, Alan Garcia, said his colt broke a little slowly and "It took him a little while to get going. The break definitely cost me.

"When you come this far to win a race and get beat like that...heartbreaking."

Darren Fleming, the assistant to Steve Asmussen, said his only concern came with Leparoux and Daddy Nose Best looming up while in tight quarters, "but like Julien always does, he got him through there."

Fleming said the decision to run in the El Camino was made because of the added distance of the race and because turf runners seem to handle the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields well.

"He's been showing us he wanted more ground so we've had to wait for the races to catch up to him," said Fleming.

Owner Bob Zollars said that one reason Daddy Nose Best ran on the turf was because the races were longer.

Fleming also said, "Winning last year with Silver Medallion helped our decision."

Daddy Nose Best earned $120,000 for Bob and Cathy Zollars, who bought him for $35,000 at the Keeneland September 2010 yearling sale. A son of Scat Daddy, Daddy Nose Best now has $233,623 in earnings, including $145,558 in graded races which help determine Kentucky Derby entrants.

The favored Handsome Mike finished third, 3 1/2 lengths back after dueling to the quarter pole with 94-1 shot All Squared Away. Unveiled Heat, a 33--1 shot, ran fourth with the Jerry Hollendorfer stablemates Russian Greek and the filly Lady of Fifth fifth and sixth.

"He'll improve off this race," said Corey Nakatani, Handsome Mike's jockey..