Nobody outside of the Northern California area usually cares for the El Camino Real Derby, even though it’s a stop on the derby trail. But this weekend’s event provided a show stopping thriller for those that bothered to invest in the most unlikely of heroes. At 48/1, Zakaroff was the longest horse on the board and received a pitiful $3,922 in action. He surprised everyone with a stunning performance.
Even money favorite Ann Arbor Eddie, who had gone 3-0-1 in four starts with wins at the California Cup Derby and King Glorious heading in to this race, was the horse to watch. He was followed by Sheer Flattery at 5/2, and then More Power To Him who slid in as the 9/2 third option. It seemed to be a race that was pretty run-of-the-mill. Ride the top two favorites and cash out when all is said and done.
A grand total of $147,686 was spent on Ann Arbor Eddie and Sheer Flattery. This was the most logical pathway, and one I would’ve followed as well. But as the race unfolded, Zakaroff found the opportunity he probably should haven’t been afforded.
As the field rounded the last turn, Zakaroff was blocked off by three other rivals and if they had simply stayed in a tight formation there would’ve been no way for the longshot to contend for the 2017 El Camino Real Derby title. But in a strange twist that allowed for an unexpected result, that blockade parted like a biblical sea to give jockey Kyle Frey and Zakaroff the opening they needed. “Normally you might be concerned about being boxed in, but my horse was completely relaxed and in hand,” Frey said. “It did get a little bit shaky coming out of that final turn, but luckily we were able to muscle out and get a clean trip outside.”
Owner Steven Specht also commented on his surprise El Camino Real Derby winner’s odds heading in to the challenge. “They didn’t give me much credit, even though I didn’t finish that far behind some of these horses the last two times,” Specht noted. “I really thought this race was too far, that one mile or 1 1/16 miles was his limit. When he got to the stretch, he showed a little extra that I didn’t think he had. I actually entered him in a first-level allowance sprint, but the race didn’t go, so I got stuck running here. Not a bad stick. I wasn’t out of my league, but somebody has to be favored and somebody has to not be.”
Zakaroff was worth a whopping $99.60 with the win, while More Power To Him gave back $6.40 and $4.00 in second. Tribal Storm took third and was worth $5.00 at 10/1. For what it was worth, Ann Arbor Eddie was just outside the top-three finishing 4th while Sheer Flattery trailed to dead last.
This derby trail has been full of surprises all year long, and the 2017 El Camino Real Derby was no exception.