Cause to Believe and Russell Baze win the El Camino Real Derby.

Cause to Believe and Russell Baze win the El Camino Real Derby.

Bay Meadows

Cause to Believe Provides Hope In El Camino

Cause to Believe lived up to his name with a come-from-behind victory in Sunday's $250,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Bay Meadows.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Russell Baze, Cause to Believe powered through a rail opening to win over pacesetting Objective by three-quarters of a length, with Bold Chieftain two lengths back in third. A.P. Warrior, the even-money favorite, finished nine lengths behind the winner in fourth, with the Bob Baffert-trained Wanna Runner fifth in the six-horse field.

Second choice in the wagering, Cause to Believe ($7.40, $4.40, $4.60) covered the 1-1/16-mile on a fast track in 1:41.81.

The victory was Baze's fourth in the El Camino Real, and Hollendorfer's third, tying the latter with Ron McAnally for most wins in Northern California's most important Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep race.

"I've had confidence in this horse all along," said Hollendorfer, who ranks Cause to Believe among his best prospects all-time for the Kentucky Derby. "It's great to win this kind of race because it's graded money, and it helps you get into the Big Race."

Baze had no doubts about this Derby prospect. "The whole way, I felt very confident," Baze said. "When we made the lead (in the stretch), he started goofing around because he's not used to being in front so early. All his other (wins) have been in the last jump."

Added Hollendorfer, "This colt is laid back. He does what he has to. We're getting him a good education."

A son of Maria's Mon out of Imaginary Cat, by Storm Cat, Cause to Believe -- who cost $30,000 as a 2-year-old in training -- now has five wins from eight starts with three seconds. The $137,500 winner's share increased his bankroll to $280,565 for owner Peter Redekop, a British Columbia homebuilder.

The El Camino Real has produced seven winners of Triple Crown races, including 1999 Kentucky Derby-Preakness champion Charismatic.

Cause to Believe and A.P. Warrior both were included in the first 2006 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool. With future wagering for the pool completed 90 minutes before the El Camino Real's post time, Cause to Believe closed at 59-1, A.P. Warrior at 31-1.

Trainer Eoin Harty was extremely disappointed in the fourth-place performance of A.P. Warrior, a $1.3 million yearling purchase. "I've got to believe he's better than that," he said. "Alex (Solis) said he was only running in snatches. He was looking all around. We've got to get him focused."

Hollendorfer, who would like to keep Cause to Believe in California, sees an open Derby road for his gray colt.

"People have questions because he's here in Northern California," he said. "It's a long campaign trail, and I've been down this road before. We have a lot of options with this horse ... And with luck, maybe we can get into the (Kentucky) Derby."

The runner-up, Objective, who set fractions of :23, :46 4/5 and 1:10 3/5 while stubbornly clinging to the lead at the top of the stretch, returned $8.40 and $8.40. Bold Chieftan, who stalked the pacesetter throughout, was $6.20 to show as Northern California horses swept the first three spots.

(Chart, Equibase)