One of trainer Bob Baffert's last Triple Crown hopefuls, Danthebluegrassman, attempts to stride further along the trail when he faces 10 other 3-year-olds in Saturday's $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields. The 1 1/16th-mile contest is Northern California's top Kentucky Derby prep race.Danthebluegrassman certainly likes the layout. His past two trips to post have come at Golden Gate, and have resulted in victories in the Gold Rush Stakes (Dec. 15) and the Golden Gate Derby (gr. III, Jan. 12). To achieve the latter win, the son of Pioneering bested Jerry Hollendorfer's Cappuchino by a nose. Owned by Mike Pegram, Danthebluegrassman shows a trio of wins and a pair of seconds in six career starts.Cappuchino, who set the pace in the Golden Gate Derby and held the lead nearly all the way, came back to post an impressive win in the Golden State Mile Feb. 10. Cappuchino, a son of Capote, has hit the board in each of his seven lifetime starts, including four wins. He is owned in partnership by Hollendorfer, Howard Litt, and George Todaro.Hollendorfer plans to send three postward in the El Camino Real. He has Lawn Mower, a first-time stakes starter, who will be coupled in the wagering with Cappuchino, and Yougottawanna, owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, who defeated Baffert's Officer in the Cal Cup Juvenile last year. He was second behind Cappuchino in the Golden State Mile.Trainer Jeff Mullins sends out Captain Squire and Lusty Latin in the contest. Captain Squire has won three of four starts, including the Turf Paradise Derby a month ago. Lusty Latin was third in that contest.Night Passion, a British import, will race over dirt for the first time following a third in the Hill Rise Stakes at Santa Anita. Southern California invader Darrell Vienna trains. D. Wayne Lukas sends out February Storm, a Storm Cat colt who will seek to break his maiden in the event. He has run six times.
In 20 runnings, the El Camino Real has produced Kentucky Derby winner and 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic; Derby runners-up Cavonnier and Casual Lies; Preakness winners Charismatic, Tabasco Cat, Snow Chief, Tank's Prospect, and Gate Dancer; and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat.The field for the El Camino Real, in post position order with weights and jockeys:Lusty Latin (Glenn Corbett, 115) Lawn Mower (Ron Warren Jr., 115) Captain Squire (Chance Rollins, 117) Danthebluegrassman (David Flores, 117) Lethal Grande (Frank Alvarado, 115) Arsen (Ben Russell, 115) February Storm (Martin Pedroza, 115) Cappuchino (Russell Baze, 115) Yougottawanna (Jason Lumpkins, 120) Night Passion (Corey Nakatani, 115) Dial A Hero (Adalberto Lopez, 115)