Uncle Denny, Stellar Magic in El Camino Clash

California Breeders' Championship Stakes winner Uncle Denny is the morning line choice in a contentious field of ten 3-year-olds included for the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Bay Meadows Saturday.

Northern California's leading Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep race, the El Camino Real Derby will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, highlighting a 10-race card. The El Camino Real Derby is the eighth race on the card and will be run at approximately 4:15 p.m. PT.

Uncle Denny (2-1 on the morning line) has three wins in four starts, including one victory coming via disqualification. Uncle Denny's third win came in the seven-furlong California Breeders' Championship, when he won by three-quarters of a length over Iced Out in a game effort.

Stellar Magic (5-2) also has three wins in four starts, taking the San Mateo Mile – the local prep for the El Camino Real Derby – in impressive fashion on Feb. 12 at Bay Meadows.

A California-bred colt by In Excess, Uncle Denny most recently finished a close fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 5, beaten by less than two lengths in his first start going two turns by Going Wild.

Trained by Rafael Becerra and owned by Stan E. Fulton, Uncle Denny will be ridden by Russell Baze.

Trained by Brian J. Pitnick, Stellar Magic's only poor race came in the California Breeders' Championship, in which he finished seventh after pressing the pace to the stretch. Uncle Denny beat Stellar Magic by 9 1/4 lengths that day.

"It's nice to have the opportunity to run in the big race," said Pitnick, who is based at Bay Meadows. "The horse is ready. He's on his toes and everything's perfect. It's exciting."

Buzzards Bay (5-1) captured the Golden Gate Derby by a nose over Sharp Writer on Jan. 15 at Golden Gate Fields. Jeff Mullins, who also conditions El Camino Real entrant Stormin Away (8-1), trains Buzzards Bay.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Kentucky Derby winner, will saddle Big Top Cat in an attempt to win the El Camino Real Derby for a third time. Lukas won the 1985 El Camino Real Derby with Tank's Prospect and the 1994 running with Tabasco Cat.

Big Top Cat, a Kentucky-bred son of Storm Cat, won a six-furlong maiden allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 29 and most recently ran fourth in a 1 1/16 mile allowance test at the Arcadia track on Feb. 16.

"I'm looking for him to step forward Saturday, and he's not going to win this race unless he does," said Lukas. "He's the most impeccably bred horse in America, but that doesn't help you turning for home if you can't run. He needs to step up."

Wannawinemall, trained by Kristin Mulhall, is coming off a four-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance race at Santa Anita on Feb. 17. Mike Smith is making the trip from Southern California to ride Wannawinemall in the El Camino Real Derby.

$200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III), 3-year-olds, 1 1/6 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Wannawinemall, Mike Smith, 115, 12-1
2. Stellar Magic, Dennis Carr, 117, 5-2
3. Stormin Away, Joe Steiner, 115, 8-1
4. Vasilias, Macario Rodriguez, 115, 30-1
5. Uncle Denny, Baze, 117, 2-1
6. Customer, Tammi Piermarini, 115, 30-1
7. Big Top Cat, Jon Court, 115, 12-1
8. Wind Water, Jason Lumpkins, 115, 15-1
9. Sharp Writer, Frank Alvarado, 115, 10-1
10. Buzzards Bay, Mark Guidry, 117, 5-1