Updated on 09/17/2011 10:03AM

Ocean Terrace captures El Camino Real Derby

Vassar Photography
Ocean Terrace wins the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday in his first start around two turns.

ALBANY, Calif. - Ocean Terrace ($11.60), making his first start around two turns, won the $200,000 at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Ocean Terrace stalked Onebadshark, taking the lead after the field had turned into the stretch. He finished well to hold off favored Ministers Wild Cat by 1 1/2 lengths, running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.26. Ten Most Wanted was third, a nose behind Ministers Wild Cat with fast-finishing Winning Stripes fourth another length back.

Breaking from the No. 9 post in the field of 10, Ocean Terrace showed a bit more speed than Ministers Wild Cat, who broke from the No. 10 post. Ministers Wild Cat wound up five wide on the first turn and was wide down the backstretch and around the second turn.

Ocean Terrace broke a bit awkwardly but quickly found his stride. He was able to get over and was three wide on the first turn, drifting out momentarily before recovering.

"The horse was a bit disoriented on the first turn then realized he was supposed to go left. It was just inexperience," winning trainer Bob Hess Jr. said.

Mike Smith got the call on the colt, who is now 3-for-3, when Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard the first two starts, chose to ride Ministers Wild Cat.

Smith said his winning tactics were "the game plan" going into the race.

"I didn't want to be on the lead, and I tried to stay out a little bit to keep Ministers Wild Cat wide. I didn't want to give him an option," Smith said.

"I even waited to go to the lead. I felt I had the leader any time. I actually hit the front a little too soon. A lot of them fall apart the first time around two turns, but he was just the opposite. It was hard to pull him up."

Hess said he went to the jockey's room before the race to tell Smith about Ocean Terrace.

"I said he's real talented, kind of a push-button horse. I said to ride him smooth and with a little confidence," he said.

Hess said it was Smith's idea to play "cat and mouse" to keep Ministers Wild Cat a bit wide early.

Onebadshark, who finished fifth beaten five lengths, set good fractions of 22.73, 45.47 and 1:09.47 in his first race around two turns.

Though the fractions were fast, Smith said, "I was going comfortable."

Desormeaux, who has ridden each of the top three finishers, wasn't unhappy with his colt's second-place finish.

"I thought it was a tremendous effort," he said. "He improved 10 lengths from his last start (the Feb. 9 Golden State Mile). I like everything he did today. In the last race, he was keen early, and I had to tell him what to do. Today I only had to ask him. I was able to ride him with my fingertips.

"The winner is a very, very good horse. The top three horses can really run. I've ridden them all, and I wish they could have stayed apart. But I'm really, really happy with my horse."

Neil Drysdale, Ministers Wild Cat's trainer, agreed with Desormeaux.

"I think this was a better race than his last one here. I think he learned more from this race again. We'll look for a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby."

Ten Most Wanted's trainer Wally Dollase said, "I thought he ran good. We'll just go on from here."

Pat Day, the colt's rider, said, "He made a good first impression on me. He's still learning, and there's room for improvement."

Ocean Terrace, a $700,000 yearling purchase by Saint Ballado out of the Black Tie Affair mare Crystal River, earned $110,000 to lift his career earnings to $160,400.