El Camino a try­out for Ann Ar­bor Ed­die

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Steve An­der­sen

Ann Ar­bor Ed­die has out­grown Cal­i­for­nia-breds over the last 60 days with wins in stakes at Los Alami­tos and Santa Anita. His per­for­mance in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Satur­day will de­ter­mine whether he has pro­gressed enough for an in­ter­na­tional trip.

If Ann Ar­bor Ed­die runs well in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta, he could run next in the $2 mil­lion United Arab Emi­rates Derby at Mey­dan Race­course in Dubai on March 25.

“He’s got to keep mov­ing for­ward to run in a race like that,” trainer Doug O’Neill said last week­end.

Ann Ar­bor Ed­die has pro­gressed steadily in his four starts. Owned by breed­ers Paul and Zil­lah Red­dam, Ann Ar­bor Ed­die won stakes for Cal­i­for­nia-breds in his last two starts – the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes at a mile at Los Alami­tos on Dec. 18 and the $245,000 Cal­i­for­nia Cup Derby at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 28.

In each race, Ann Ar­bor Ed­die was close to the pace and caught the mul­ti­ple stakes win­ner Cal­i­for­nia Di­a­mond in the fi­nal strides.

The King Glorious-Cal Cup Derby dou­ble was ac­com­plished in the win­ter of 2013-14 by Cal­i­for­nia Chrome, who went on to win the Santa Anita Derby, Ken­tucky Derby, and Preak­ness Stakes that spring en route to be­ing named the 2014 Horse of the Year.

O’Neill re­fuses to get too caught up in Ann Ar­bor Ed­die’s suc­cess, espe­cially in the con­text of Cal­i­for­nia Chrome’s cam­paign.

“It’s a big jump from Jan­uary to May,” he said.

Af­ter Cal­i­for­nia Chrome, the fol­low­ing two win­ners of the Cal­i­for­nia Cup Derby have had quiet ca­reers. The 2015 win­ner, Mis­chief Clem, was sev­enth in the El Camino Real Derby that year. He has not raced since last Fe­bru­ary. Smokey Im­age won the 2016 Cal Cup Derby and lost his five sub­se­quent starts. He has not raced since Au­gust.

Last Novem­ber, Ann Ar­bor Ed­die was third to Mas­tery in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at seven fur­longs at Del Mar in his sec­ond start. Mas­tery later won the Grade 1 Los Alami­tos Fu­tu­rity and is con­sid­ered the top 3-year-old prospect in Cal­i­for­nia.

“I thought he was a good third to Mas­tery,” O’Neill said.

Ann Ar­bor Ed­die is by Square Ed­die, owned by the Red­dams, who won the Grade 1 Breed­ers’ Fu­tu­rity at Keeneland and fin­ished sec­ond in the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile. The geld­ing is out of the stakes win­ner Repo, who won two stakes for 2-year-old fil­lies in 2009 – the Lan­daluce Stakes against open com­pany at Hol­ly­wood Park and the Cal­i­for­nia Thor­ough­bred Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Stakes for Cal­breds at Del Mar.

Even though Repo was best in sprints, O’Neill said he was not sur­prised that Ann Ar­bor Ed­die has thrived in longer races.

“He’s shown he can run two turns,” he said. “Square Ed­dies can run on any sur­face.”

Among Ann Ar­bor Ed­die’s pos­si­ble op­po­nents in the El Camino Real Derby are More Power to Him and Colonel Sam­sen, who fin­ished sec­ond and third in the Cal­i­for­nia Derby at Golden Gate on Jan. 21. The win­ner of the Cal­i­for­nia Derby, So Con­flated, is also trained by O’Neill and won’t be re­turn­ing for the El Camino Real Derby.

O’Neill will be af­ter his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win in the El Camino Real Derby. Last year, Frank Con­ver­sa­tion won the Cal­i­for­nia Derby and El Camino Real Derby in con­sec­u­tive starts. He was later last of seven in the UAE Derby on dirt. Last fall, Frank Con­ver­sa­tion won the Grade 2 Twi­light Derby at 36-1 on Breed­ers’ Cup week­end on turf at Santa Anita.

The trip to Dubai with Frank Con­ver­sa­tion taught the Red­dams and O’Neill a les­son.

“We learned Frank Con­ver­sa­tion runs on syn­thetic and turf,” O’Neill said. “He didn’t like dirt.”

Ann Ar­bor Ed­die has won on dirt at Santa Anita and Del Mar, so that will be one fewer worry for the Red­dams and O’Neill if he goes to Dubai.

SHIGEKI KIKKAWA

Ann Ar­bor Ed­die might go to Dubai fol­low­ing the El Camino.

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