02/15/2015 12:47PM

Road to the Derby analysis: El Camino Real Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Metaboss wins the El Camino Real Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Grade 3, $200,525 El Camino Real Derby, 1 1/8 miles (on Tapeta), Golden Gate Fields, Feb. 14, 2015
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: Metaboss
Trainer: Jeff Bonde
Jockey: Alex Solis
Owners: Michael Arndt, Chuck Azcarate, Milan McFetridge, Mersad Metanovic, and Dan Preiss
Beyer Speed Figure: 85

METABOSS, whose best races had been on turf, won a race on synthetic that unfolded like a grass race, with a crawling pace and then a mad dash for home.

Metaboss, starting from post 3 in a field of 10, saved ground around the first turn and then was steered to the middle of the track by jockey Alex Solis during the run down the backstretch while racing in eighth. He initially had trouble keeping pace with his rivals when the pace quickened noticeably on the far turn, but he finally gathered himself and then closed stoutly, despite getting fanned about six paths wide into the lane, and won going away with a final furlong that went in 11.86 seconds.

The final time of 1:49.92, following a six-furlong split in 1:13.98, meant the final three furlongs were run in less than 36 seconds. Metaboss trailed by about five lengths with three furlongs to go, so his final three-eighths were run in about 35 seconds.

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

Because the El Camino Real Derby is run on synthetic, it’s hard to imagine the race will prove to be a factor in terms of the Kentucky Derby. But Metaboss definitely is headed in the right direction, with two wins in a row now. His worst performance came in his lone start on dirt, in a sprint, and while it wasn’t an abject failure, and he’s clearly thrived since going two turns, his connections are wisely pointing to the Spiral Stakes, also on synthetic, next month at Turfway.

Metaboss was born May 17, 2012, so his actual third birthday is the day after this year’s Preakness Stakes. Given time to mature and properly spotted in races on synthetic and turf, he can do a whole lot of good.

CROSS THE LINE, in traffic behind horses entering the first turn, remained just behind the leaders for much of the race, had to check briefly when initially trying to split horses in upper stretch, finally got clear and came with a nice run to garner the place while no match for the winner.

CONQUEST TYPHOON, making his first start at age 3, found himself attending the dawdling pace while three paths wide on both turns. He got the best of pace rivals INDIANAUGHTY and ERNEST SHACKLETON but could not hold off the top two and in a few more strides would have surrendered third place to HARMONIC.

Harmonic, who finished fourth, trailed early, was forced to rally widest of all on the turn while outside Metaboss, was fanned about seven paths wide into the stretch, was late to change leads, then finished with some interest.

SOUL DRIVER, who finished fifth, broke a bit awkwardly but quickly recovered, was three paths wide on the first turn while in the second flight of horses, made a menacing move while five paths wide on the final turn to loom a threat, but could not match the top four late. He made his five-wide move during the fastest part of the race, so this effort might be a bit better than it looks on paper.

STAND AND SALUTE, three paths wide on the first turn while in a flight of horses just behind the leaders, remained in that spot until upper stretch, encountered a touch of fairly insignificant traffic in upper stretch, then went one-paced to the wire to finish sixth.

MISCHIEF CLEM, who finished seventh, broke slowly from his outside post, then found himself four paths wide on the first turn and remained in that spot all the way until the top of the stretch, where he failed to quicken.

Ernest Shackleton, who was eighth, pressed the pace while between Indianaughty and Conquest Typhoon and steadily retreated in the final furlong.

Indianaughty set or forced the pace while inside Ernest Shackleton and Conquest Typhoon, came under an aggressive ride at the quarter pole and faded. He checked at mid-stretch while inside Ernest Shackleton, but he was done by then, and the incident was inconsequential.

DONJI, who finished last of 10, lost contact with the field after six furlongs, was eased in the homestretch, but was reported by the Equibase chart caller to have walked off the course under his own power.