Ciaglia Racing and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Paved became the first filly to win the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby Feb. 17 with a 1 1/4-length score in Northern California's lone Triple Crown prep race at Golden Gate Fields.
Her connections don't have Derby fever—instead they're pointing to the bevy of quality turf races for fillies in 2018—but her victory over the synthetic main track was impressive nonetheless.
The Quality Road filly, who broke her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths on the Santa Anita Park grass course last time out Jan. 6, stalked the early pace with co-favorite and last-out California Derby winner Choo Choo on her outside, quickened as her rival tired in the final turn, and wore down Mugaritz in the stretch under jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
"She's very push-button. She's got a lot of ability and she's kinda—I don't want to say she's quirky, but she looked around a little bit at the end," Van Dyke said. "There's definitely a lot more left. "
Calexman sped to the early lead and set fractions of :23.60 and :47.82 through a half-mile, but began to fade early in the second turn. Mugaritz took over to run six furlongs in 1:12.01 and had a clear lead in the last bend, but was no match for Paved in the stretch run. Mugaritz held for fourth, but the top four finishers—who earned Road to the Kentucky Derby points on a 10-4-2-1 scale—are not nominated to the Triple Crown. This year's edition of the El Camino Real was also the first time the race was ungraded since 1985.
"I thought the filly ran super," said winning trainer Michael McCarthy. "It kinda worked out like we thought it would. We thought she'd get a nice position in the first turn and she sat in the pocket nicely up the backside. I thought she might have come off the bridle a little bit coming to the (3 1/2-furlong pole), but Drayden said she was kinda waiting on horses. Obviously when he asked her, she responded nicely."
Bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm out of the Cozzene mare Sirmione, Paved was a $320,000 purchase by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners from Hoppel's Horse and Cattle Co. at the 2017 Ocala Breeders' Sales March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Joe Ciaglia, who purchased the filly for $130,000 from Lane's End's consignment to the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale, bought back into Paved after her sale at OBS. Paved now has $104,640 in earnings from four starts and became her sire Quality Road's 25th black-type winner Saturday.