Chase the Chaos and Armando Ayuso capture the El Camino Real Derby (Vassar Photography)
Golden Gate Fields Press Box
BERKELEY, Calif.— An enticing and competitive field of nine 3-year-olds are ready to rumble in the $100,000 California Derby at one mile and a sixteenth on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields this Saturday. The California Derby, one of six stakes races on the Gold Rush Weekend Saturday card at Golden Gate, is considered one of the premier races over the stakes packed weekend.
The 2023 California Derby field is led by Chase the Chaos, winner of the El Camino Real Derby in February. Most recently, the son of Astern finished off the board in the Grade 2 San Felipe on dirt at Santa Anita. The Ed Moger Jr. trainee freshens up almost two months for his return to the races and sports a consistent work pattern leading up to the ‘Derby. Armando Ayuso, who has been aboard the Pennsylvania bred in all five California starts, will be back in the irons on Saturday.
Prince Abu Dhabi is undefeated in three lifetime races and makes his stakes debut in the California Derby. The Blaine Wright trainee by Palace Malace showed grit in edging out the runner up in a local March 31 allowance-a race in which he was traveling a route of ground for the first time. He draws the outside post in the field of nine and will be steered by jockey Alexander Chavez.
The well-bred Harcyn was third behind Prince Abu Dhabi on March 31 as the favorite and looks to turn the tables. A Kentucky-bred by Goldencents out of a half sibling to Kentucky Derby winner Giacamo and Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago, Harcyn adds blinkers in search of his first career stakes triumph for owner/breeder Jerry Moss. Regular rider William Antongeorgi III retains the mount for trainer Steve Sherman.
Passarando won the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate and the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita last year, and finished fourth in his most recent start, the El Camino Real Derby in February. Passarando posted a one-mile workout on the morning of April 15 as a stamina building drill leading up to his first start in two and a half months.
The Williamson Racing LLC homebred Egon RNA’d for $375,000 at Keeneland as a yearling. The pedigree suggests he could be a good one, by Ghostzapper out of Grade 2 winner Nashoba’s Joy, she herself from the same female family as Grade 1 winner Nashoba’s Key. Traveling a mile on debut, Egon stalked the pace, took the lead in midstretch, and powered away for a runway win on April 8. Three weeks later, he returns in the California Derby against stakes company. Evin Roman guided Egon to victory on April 8 and sees fit to ride again.
Two Southern California shippers are in the field. Both are trained by Michael McCarthy. Phospherescence was a gate to wire maiden special weight winner at Santa Anita on turf and faces winners for the first time while Jam Session broke his maiden in a sprint over the Golden Gate Tapeta two races ago. The latter gelding was never a factor in an allowance race at Santa Anita five weeks ago and tries routing for the first time in the California Derby. Umberto Rispoli rides Phosphorescence and Assael Espinoza has the mount on Jam Session.
Sea Dog finished four lengths behind Chase the Chaos in the El Camino Real Derby and most recently placed second in an allowance race. Nauvoo was a dominant claiming race winner at Santa Anita, earning the co-highest last-race Beyer speed figure (80) out of anybody in the California Derby.
The California Derby goes as Race 10 on a 12-race Gold Rush Weekend Saturday card at Golden Gate. First post is 1:15 PM. The Late Pick 4 sequence on Saturday will have a guaranteed pool of $200,000 while the Late Pick 5 pool is guaranteed at $150,000. For more information on all things Gold Rush Weekend and Golden Gate, please visit goldengatefields.com.
Race 10: The $100,000 California Derby (For 3-year-olds at one mile and a sixteenth on Tapeta)
#1 Sea Dog (Jockey Francisco Monroy…Trainer O.J Jauregui…122 pounds)
#2 Harcyn (William Antongeorgi III…Steve Sherman…122)
#3 Nauvoo (Brayan Pena…Jonathan Wong…122)
#4 Egon (Evin Roman…Reid France…122)
#5 Phosphorescence (Umberto Rispoli…Michael McCarthy…122)
#6 Jam Session (Assael Espinoza…Michael McCarthy…122)
#7 Passarando (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht…122)
#8 Chase the Chaos (Armando Ayuso…Ed Moger Jr …122)
#9 Prince Abu Dhabi (Alexander Chavez…Blaine Wright …122)