02/15/2014 9:16PM

Golden Gate Fields: Tamarando storms from last to capture El Camino Real Derby


ALBANY, Calif. -- Tamarando was content to sit last through the first six furlongs, but then unleashed a strong closing run to score a solid victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Tamarando, winner of last year's Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, was not exactly a last-minute replacement for his unbeaten stablemate Exit Stage Left, who suffered a tendon injury one week earlier.

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

"We had talked about running him anyway," said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who had given Tamarando, a son of  Bertrando, a strong five-furlong work after his second-place finish in the Jan. 25 Cal Cup Derby at Santa Anita. Hollendorfer said that owner-breeders Larry and Marianne Williams did not want to run at Santa Anita again because the track does not play well to Tamarando's late-closing style.

Tamarando ($6.60) was last in the field of eight but sat closer to the lead than he had in recent starts. He was five lengths behind pacesetting I'll Wrap It Up's opening quarter and half-mile fractions of 24.40 and 49.73 seconds.

"Really, when we looked at the race on paper, I told [jockey] Russell (Baze), I thought there was no speed, but somebody would inherit it. I thought we'd be closer."

"He was laying closer than normal for him and doing it within himself," said Baze. "I had to ask him to start moving at the three-eighths pole because I knew they had a lot of horse in front of us."

I'll Wrap It Up, who faded to last, was still in front at the quarter pole but was about to be gobbled up by favored Enterprising and Dance With Fate. Tamarando was still last, but Baze had him in gear as he eased him five wide and in the clear.

Dance With Fate, who had his head in front at the eighth pole, and Enterprising went right past I'll Wrap It Up, but Tamarando had them in his sights.

Enterprising was the first to falter in the lane, and Dance With Fate dug in trying to hold off Tamarando. But Tamarando, who beat him in the Del Mar Futurity and finished third to his second in the Grade 1 Front Runner, continued relentlessly to the wire, pulling even and then beginning to inch clear.

"About the quarter pole, I saw Russell moving and thought we had a chance, but it still takes an awful lot to run them down," said Hollendorfer. "Russell did a good job timing it right."

Baze said the win didn't come easily.

"My horse was running pretty good, but that horse on the lead [Dance With Fate] wasn't coming back. He ran all the way to the wire. It took a good horse to run him down, and this is a good horse."

Aaron Gryder said that Dance With Fate was interested in going on early.

"If I could have gotten him to save a little more energy early on, I think we may have had a different story at the end."

Gary Stevens said that approaching the quarter pole he sensed Dance With Fate was going better than Enterprising.

"I saw Tamarando's shadow coming, and it turned into a good horse race between them,” said Stevens, who finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Dance With Fate. Puppy Manners finished fourth another length back.

The victory was the fifth for the Baze-Hollendorfer duo in the El Camino. It was Hollendorfer's sixth victory and the ninth for Baze, who has won seven of the previous 10 runnings of the race.

The victory, worth $120,000, was the fourth in 10 starts for Tamarando, who finished off the board only once, in his debut. He has earned $625,120 and earned 10 points toward qualification for the Kentucky Derby field.