02/18/2017 8:30PM

Zakaroff pays $99.60 for stunning win in El Camino Real Derby

Shane Miceli/Vassar Photography
Zakaroff (1), by the far the longest shot on the board, outfinishes even-money favorite Ann Arbor Eddie by a half-length in the El Camino Real Derby.

ALBANY, Calif. -- Zakaroff scored the second biggest upset in the 36-year history of the Grade 3, $200,450 El Camino Real Derby, scoring a one-half-length victory at nearly 49-1 as locally based runners swept the top three positions in the premier race for 3-year-olds at  Golden Gate Fields.

   Zakaroff's stunning win nearly matched the $126 upset by Autism Awareness in 2008 when the race was run at Bay Meadows. He was the longest shot in the field, more than double the price of Kona Dreams, who is still a maiden.

 Zakaroff ($99.60) defeated even-money favorite Ann Arbor Eddie, winning the 1 1/8-mile race by a half-length in 1:51.34 .More Power to Him was third, another 1 1/4 lengths back, one length ahead of fourth-place Tribal Storm. Both were moved up when Ann Arbor Eddie drifted out in the stretch, bumping and impeding Tribal Storm. Ann Arbor Eddie was disqualified to fourth.

   Ann Arbor Eddie broke alertly and held the lead over Tribal Storm and Kona Dreams through a 23.95-secone opening quarter-mile. Mario Gutierrez eased Ann Arbor Eddie back as Tribal Storm and Kona Dreams continued in front down the backstretch and on the second turn.

  Zakaroff was fourth early, but jockey Kyle Frey relaxed him and had him drop back down the backstretch while saving ground while sitting behind Ann Arbor Eddie.

  Tribal Storm maintained a head advantage as Ann Arbor Eddie loomed up at the quarter pole and then took the lead in the lane.

  Frey eased out to find an open path in the lane and his mount dug in, finishing strongly. Ann Arbor Eddie drifted out midway through the lane bothering Tribal Storm, whose rider, Abel Cedillo, was forced to take up. Meanwhile More Power to Him was also rallying wide through the lane and did pass Tribal Storm late.

 The victory seemed to surprise winning trainer Steve Specht as much as the fans.  

 "It's a horse race, you never know," said Specht.

 "I thought the race was too far for him. I thought he'd be good at a mile, mile-and-a-sixteenth, but when Kyle got him out, he kept going. I had entered him in a first-condition allowance race”

Specht added he was glad racing secretary Patrick Mackey didn’t use the allowance race. “I was kind of forced to go here."

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 Zakaroff was fifth, beaten four lengths, in the California Derby when he didn't have the best of racing luck. Prior to that, he had run third in a one-mile race won by More Power to Him.

 In the California Derby, Zakaroff got stuck on the rail, which was heavier and deeper after recent rains. 

 "I thought he stalled the last sixteenth that day, but today, he was off the fence," said Specht.

 Specht said that he told Frey that Zakaroff was easy to handle and could run inside or outside, but, given the California Derby debacle, "preferably outside." 

 "Not bad for a pick-up," said Frey, who got the mount when Frank Alvarado took off Zakaroff, whom he had ridden in his first five starts. Alvarado opted for morning-line favorite Sheer Flattery, who wound up the second choice and ran last.

  "I had Mario in front of us and was keeping an eye on him. We were able to get momentum when we got outside."

  Zakaroff, a gelded son of Slew's Tiznow, was a $25,000 yearling purchase at the October 2015 Barretts sale by Antone Metaxas. Specht said former trainer Greg Gilchrist helped pick him out.

 The victory was worth $120,000, bringing Zakaroff's career earnings to $148,120. It was also worth 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, however Zakaroff is not currently nominated to the Triple Crown.