CHASE THE CHAOS CONTINUES TO EXCEL FOR MOGER HEADING INTO EL CAMINO REAL DERBY
After a maiden special weight victory at two turns on turf at Canterbury Park last summer, Pennsylvania bred gelding Chase the Chaos was moved to the barn of Ed Moger Jr. in California. It didn’t take long for Moger to create an opinion on the horse.
“I’ve liked him since the first time I saw him,” said Moger Jr. “He’s a big, beautiful horse. He’s a really good mover and very athletic.”
Following a runner up finish behind multiple stakes winner Passarando in the Gold Rush Stakes on December 3 for Team Moger, Chase the Chaos returned four weeks later and ran away from a group of first level allowance foes. That day, he sat off a wicked fast pace, blew by his company, and hit the wire seven lengths ahead of runner up finisher Happy Does while geared down at the wire.
“I wasn’t surprised at all by the effort,” said Moger Jr. “He got a really fast pace to run in. That helped him, but he’s a good horse too.”
Chase the Chaos now seeks a free Preakness berth and 10 Kentucky Derby points in the feature race of the day this Saturday: the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby for 3-year-olds at one mile and an eighth. The El Camino Real Derby is one of the most prestigious races in the Bay Area every year and has a rich history that dates back to the 1980’s.
The midpack running Chase the Chaos has received favorable, quick pace scenarios in both the Gold Rush and the December 30 allowance race. This time around, the pace may not be quite as rapid. Moger Jr. feels his gelding is versatile enough to work out a good trip for himself regardless of the fractional times.
“In the mile and an eighth races, sometimes they don’t send as hard as they would going a mile,” said Moger Jr. “If the pace isn’t super-fast, he can lay a little bit closer. I think he’s got versatility. He just needs to get in a good stride and put himself where he’s happy and he should be okay.”
Chase the Chaos is listed at 3-1 on the morning line. Regular rider Armando Ayuso has the call for owners Bill Dory and Adam Ference. 9 races comprise the El Camino Real Derby Day card. First post is 1:15 PM. The El Camino Real Derby goes as Race 8 on the program and has a listed post time of 4:54 PM.
Moger also reported that stable star Stilleto Boy is back home at Golden Gate and in great shape after a terrific third place finish in the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park two weeks ago. The son of Shackleford will train at Golden Gate leading up to his next start.
“He’s such a neat horse,” said Moger.
$100,000 El Camino Real Derby of 2023 (Race 8 on Saturday, February 11 at 9 furlongs on Tapeta)
#1 Gilmore (Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr…Trainer Bob Baffert…Morning line odds of 4-1)
#2 Chase the Chaos (Armando Ayuso…Ed Moger Jr…3-1)
#3 Happy Does (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan…10-1)
#4 Passarando (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht…2-1)
#5 Harcyn (William Antongeorgi III…Steve Sherman…5-1)
#6 In Honor of Autism (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong…12-1)
#7 Sea Dog (Francisco Monroy…O.J. Jauregui…20-1)
#8 Nullarbor (Assael Espinoza…Bob Baffert…6-1)
HARCYN EXPLORES THE ROUTE GAME IN THE EL CAMINO REAL DERBY
In a past edition of the Golden Gate Fields News and Notes, trainer Steve Sherman was quoted as saying that his young Goldencents colt Harcyn had shown ability well before his first race. That first career run came on November 30. Sent to the lead by jockey William Antongeorgi III, Harcyn flew through the opening quarter mile in 21.87 seconds with pressure, clicked off the half mile in 44.93, and powered away from the rest of the field for a three and three-quarter length score. The race came up strong; there were four horses out of the race who returned in their next starts to win.
Two and a half months later, Harcyn returned against a small group of first level allowance foes. Sent off at low odds of 2-5, the Jerry Moss homebred went to the lead again and easily won by the same margin of victory as his maiden race.
“We were trying to get him into that allowance race for a while,” said Sherman. “The race wasn’t filling. That’s why he had that gap between his first and second race.”
Harcyn has taken a relatively unconventional path to the El Camino Real Derby. A Kentucky bred who has already broken his first level allowance condition, Harcyn has limited options. For example, second level allowance races are restricted to 4-year-olds and up. Being a 3-year-old, Harcyn obviously would not be eligible for that level. The stakes schedule in the winter does not offer a race for 3-year-olds at a distance shorter than a mile and an eighth until April.
“This is the next spot,” said Sherman.
To prepare Harcyn for the mile and an eighth El Camino Real Derby distance, Sherman has changed Harcyn’s training regimen.
“We’ve been having him go longer distances in his gallops,” said Sherman. “He’ll gallop two miles in the morning.”
Sherman will be busy in the paddock for the El Camino Real Derby. Along with saddling Harcyn, he also tightens the girths of Gilmore and Nullarbor. Gilmore, set at 4-1 on the morning line, comes off a decisive two-turn maiden win at the daytime racing meet at Los Alamitos in December. The son of Twirling Candy was a $250,000 sale purchase. Stablemate Nullarbor failed to fire in his first two career races but rebounded in his most recent afternoon appearance with a strong showing against maiden sprinters. By Candy Ride, Nullarbor was sold to his connections for a whopping $500,000. Both contenders are trained by Bob Baffert and co-owned by a large partnership group that includes SF Racing, Starlight Racing LLC, and Madaket Stables, all who campaigned Blackadder to win last year’s El Camino Real Derby.
DISTANCE WON’T BE A PROBLEM FOR MULTIPLE STAKES WINNER PASSARANDO
As a 2-year-old in 2022, California-bred gelding Passarando was victorious in both the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita and the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate for trainer Steve Specht and owner/breeder Larry and Marianne Williams. So far in his young career, the son of Tamarando has won four races, with two seconds and one third place finish, and has accrued purse earnings of $240,830. Not bad.
This Saturday, Passarando competes in the top race for 3-year-olds every year in Northern California: The El Camino Real Derby. Veteran rider Frank Alvarado will be aboard for the first time. The added ground, to the mile and an eighth El Camino Real Derby distance, is no concern for Specht.
“The distance isn’t the issue. The issue is Baffert,” joked Specht with a laugh. “His horses are always tough. His fourth stringers are better than most barn’s best horses.”
The last time we saw Passarando in the afternoon, he placed third in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita traveling one mile and a sixteenth. That day, jockey Umberto Rispoli aggressively rode Passarando from the half mile pole to the finish. He completed the course almost three lengths behind race winner Thirsty John.
“Down the backstretch he was sort of buried inside and got a bunch of dirt in his face,” said Specht. “Once he got in the clear he made a run. I thought he ran a good race. The horse he lost to [Thirsty John] is a pretty nice horse. He was a standout on looks in the paddock.”
Specht is no stranger to the El Camino Real Derby winner’s circle. In 2017, he sent out Zakaroff to a 48-1 upset in the ‘Derby. This year, a victory for Passarando would hardly be a surprise.
TV PERSONALITIES VISITING GOLDEN GATE FOR ON AIR APPEARENCES EL CAMINO REAL DERBY WEEK
A trio of media personalities will be on site at Golden Gate Fields to cover racing throughout El Camino Real Derby week.
From FanDuelTV, Joaquin Jaime and Matt Bernier will be on site Friday through Sunday to cover our races. On El Camino Real Derby Day Saturday, Millie Ball from XBTV will present alongside track announcer Matt Dinerman on the Golden Gate track feed, going over her expert insight on good lookers in the paddock and selections she fancies on the form. XBTV producer Brian Martinez will also be joining the TV team behind the scenes for El Camino Real Derby Day.
“Millie is all class,” said Dinerman. “She’s been on our track feed a handful of times. I thoroughly enjoy working with people like her and Zoe Cadman when they come up as guests of our telecast. It’s great when the fans get a chance to hear different people’s opinions and knowledge. Brian Martinez is a pro; he will be in the TV truck with our crew helping produce what is going to be a terrific broadcast that we hope our fans enjoy.
Of course, we here at Golden Gate are always appreciative of FanDuel TV’s coverage of our races,” continued Dinerman. “We’re really happy to have Joaquin and Matt with us for the racing week.
SCRAPPY CALIFORNIA BRED HAPPY DOES GOES FOR EL CAMINO GOLD PRIZE
3-year-old California bred Happy Does has done good work for owner/breeder Gray Farms Inc. and trainer Felix Rondan. After a pair of off-the-board finishes sprinting, the son of Southern Image tried routing and thrived, breaking his maiden on turf at Santa Rosa. Since the maiden triumph and move to two turns, Happy Does has yet to run a bad race. Heading into the class test of his life, the 2023 El Camino Real Derby, Happy Does sports two first level allowance wins on his resume.
“I really like this horse,” said Rondan at his barn on Wednesday morning. “He’s doing great. I think he will like the [El Camino Real Derby] distance [of 9 furlongs].”
Rondan understands a victory in the El Camino Real Derby will be no easy task. Happy Does will need to turn the tables on Passarando and Chase the Chaos, the top two finishers in the Gold Rush Stakes last December. In the Gold Rush, Happy Does settled off the speed and rallied for fourth. According to Rondan, Happy Does has improved steadily since then.
“His work [last Thursday morning] was really good,” said Rondan. “He went easy in the beginning but finished strong and galloped out very strong. He is really ready to run.”
A victory in the El Camino Real Derby would surely be a career highlight for Rondan.
“We’ve run in the El Camino a couple times with longshots,” said Rondan. “This year, I think we’re coming in with a good horse.”
ZEUS’ WAR LOOKS TO TAKE A STEP FORWARD FOR MCCANNA IN SATURDAY ALLOWANCE
Saturday is clearly a day for 3-year-old equines to shine. Along with the El Camino Real Derby, a pair of first level allowance races for 3-year-olds are also sprinkled on the card. Race 5, for route fillies, kicks off the Late Pick 5, while Race 6, for sprinters, begins the Late Pick 4 sequence.
Kentucky-bred colt Zeus’ War makes his second lifetime start for trainer Tim McCanna after a terrific effort against maiden special weight rivals to kick off his career. Sent off at odds of 8-1, the son of Dialed In stalked a quick pace before out finishing runner up finisher El Bromista, who in turn was almost a half dozen lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.
“He’s a little lazy in the mornings,” said McCanna on Zeus’ War. “He was always getting better little by little. He never does more than he needs to out there. With that, I wasn’t so sure what he’d do in the afternoon. Good news is he’s a game day player. He ran a good race the other day, and [jockey] Francisco Duran did a good job on him.”
McCanna and owners Jethorse LLC were hoping for good things from Zeus’ War. They purchased the chestnut as a yearling for $190,000 at Keeneland.
“He’s a good-looking guy,” said McCanna. “He’s a medium sized horse, but he’s good looking.”
McCanna is hoping Zeus’ War can improve with a race under his belt.
“We just hope he takes the next step forward,” said McCanna. “I think he’s woken up a little bit since his first race. At some point I’ll try him routing; he’s got route pedigree. He holds good weight and I decided to give him one more sprint.”
Five other runners face Zeus’ War on Friday. Among them: impressive maiden winner Prince Abu Dhabi. Strut On Louie ran second to El Camino Real Derby contender Harcyn in a first level allowance last month and is also likely to garnish support in the wagering.
In the fifth race for fillies at one mile, stakes placed sprinter Rousing Jewel tackles the route game for the first time. She is up against morning line favorite Mastery Kat, runaway allowance winner Smiling Lady, and eye-catching maiden winner Delusively, who is a half sibling to Grade 2 winner and Grade I placed router Chocolate Martini.
Remember: first post on El Camino Real Derby Day is 1:15 PM.
First level allowance for 3-year-old fillies (Race 5 on Saturday, February 11 at 8 furlongs on Tapeta)
#1 Rousing Jewel (Jockey Frank Alvarado…Trainer Steve Specht …Morning line odds of 2-1)
#2 Delusively (Alejandro Gomez….Jose Bautista…6-1)
#3 Majestic Oops (Cristobal Herrera….Ed Moger Jr…12-1)
#4 Mastery Kat (Evin Roman…Jamey Thomas…3-2)
#5 Smiling Lady (Carlos Barbosa…Andy Mathis…9-2)
#6 Black Zabat (Adrian Escobedo…Manny Badilla…8-1)
First level allowance for 3-year-olds (Race 6 on Saturday, February 11 at 6 furlongs on Tapeta)
#1 Strut On Louie (Jockey Armando Ayuso…Trainer Doug O’Neill…Morning line odds of 5-2)
#2 Trinidad (Silvio Amador…Roger Hansen…8-1)
#3 Prince Abu Dhabi (Alexander Chavez…Blaine Wright…6-1)
#4 Zeus’ War (Francisco Duran…Tim McCanna…8-5)
#5 Rachel’s Coach (Kevin Radke…Isidro Tamayo…4-1)
#6 Abinadi (Irving Orozco…Bill McLean…10-1)
Below is a list of claims from last week:
Race 4: El Joy (New trainer Tim Bellasis…new owners Bellasis, Donna Smartt and Cassandra Tschanz)
Race 4: State of the Union (Steve Sherman…Cobra Racing LLC)
Race 5: Two Twelve (Jack Steiner…Gary and Deborah Lusk)
Race 1: Into Bourbon (Ed Moger Jr…Terry McFarlane)
Race 2: Bourbon Glaze (Blaine Wright…Eddie Kenneally)
Race 4: Austrian Navy (Huntertown Farm LLC and Calvario)
Race 4: Jaycee (Jonathan Wong…MJVET Stables and JJ Lee Rae)
Race 4: Smilin Evie (Blaine Wright…Robert and Ann Clary)
Race 6: Uncle Wilbur (Mike Lenzini…Gary Marrone)
Race 7: O’Neills Legacy (Jack Steiner…Daniel O’Neill)
Race 1: Party Foul (Jamey Thomas…Lamonte Isom)
FINISH LINES: Please note: Early first post this Sunday of 11:15 AM. Enjoy the races at Golden Gate and get home/change the channel in time to watch “The Big Game” with the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs…$13,210 is carried over into the Super High Five wager on Friday heading into the first race of the day…10-pound apprentice rider Carlos Barbosa will call Golden Gate Fields his home for the winter and spring. The 18-year-old native of Puerto Rico has won 2 races from 14 mounts at Camarero Racecourse and picked up mounts on Saturday and Sunday to kick off his Northern California riding career. He will be represented by agent Nelson Arroyo. An in-depth story on Barbosa will be featured in next week’s edition of the News and Notes. Stay tuned…The feature race on Friday at Golden Gate is Race 7: a second level allowance for sprinters. Multiple first level allowance runaway winner Star Racer draws the rail and faces tougher at the second level condition. He goes up against 2021 Oakland Stakes winner Rager, stakes placed racers War Games and Irrefutable, the consistent Heavenly Prince, the Bill McLean trained Hey Mate, and My Summer Dream, making his first start off a $50,000 claim by O.J Jauregui and owner Danny Eplin. First post on Friday is later than usual: 1:15 PM…On Saturday, Golden Gate Fields welcomes the 175 licensed owners who will be attendance for the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California) luncheon in our fourth-floor turf club. Among those expected in attendance: Stephanie Hronis of Hronis Racing LLC, prominent California breeder/owner Nick Alexander, staunch supporter of Northern California racing Johnny Taboada, and TOC President Bill Nadar.