Photo: Don August
When Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer learned his local star Exit Stage Left would miss the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby with an injury, he promptly went to his also eligible list and pulled up a substitute to line up in the eight horse field.
Tamarando turned out to be quite a choice.
Using his patented lane running style, the son of Bertrando circled the field from last under all-time wins leader Russell Baze, and got up in the final strides for a half-length win over Dance With Fate and jockey Aaron Gryder. The post- time favorite, Enterprising with jockey Gary Stevens up, finished third in the 1 1/8 mile contest.
Tamarando receives 10 points in the race for the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
“That’s an excellent substitute,” said Baze after winning his fourth El Camino Derby in the past 6 years. “He’s a very quality individual. There’s going to be a lot of good things coming from this colt. He’s got a lot of talent.”
Tamarando, who won the Del Mar Futurity as a two year old last year, had previously run all his races in southern California. His prior two races was a runner up performance to California Chrome in the Cal Cup Derby and a third place effort in the CashCall Futurity, where he finished behind stablemate Shared Belief and runner up Candy Boy. Both of those two have gotten a lot of Kentucky Derby press as of late.
But back to the El Camino.
Tamarando figured to have the best late kick in a field full of mid pack runners and closers. All that was lacking was some speed to set it up. That role was played by I’ll Wrap It Up but the fractions of 24.4 and 49.3 didn’t favor the closer as much as it was suppose to help Dance With Fate and Enterprising, who stalked the leader down the backside. When they approached the top of the stretch, those two went on with it as Gryder put away Stevens and Enterprising, only to fall victim to the late kick of the winner.
“We had a great trip,” Stevens said. “ When we hit the quarter pole I was sensing Aaron had the best of me and I was wondering where Tamarando was, I knew he was going to come running. My horse didn’t pick up for me like I thought he was going to. No excuses.”
Despite the pedestrian pace, Baze had no trouble picking up the leaders when he asked.
“I would have liked to seen a little more pace ,” Baze said. “But when you have bunch of horses going a 1 1/8 mile for the first time you aren’t going to get a lot of pace. Going into the turn I was able to get to the outside and away he went. He made a nice long move. Jerry put me on a good one.”
Hollendorfer liked what he saw but was non committal about what was next for his star.
“ I don't think anybody knew what to expect in the race. With not a lot of speed in there it becomes a rider's race. Russell thought he was in the right spot and evidently he was," Hollendorfer said. "There are a lot of races coming up for three year-olds and a lot of money to run for. We are grateful to have a good one.”