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Team Valor Likes Kasseopia in El Camino Real Derby

Team Valor Likes Kasseopia in El Camino Real Derby: Golden Gate Fields holds one race which awards qualifying points for Kentucky Derby 142, the El Camino Real Derby (GIII) scheduled for this Saturday at the distance of nine furlongs. The field will compete on Tapeta, one of the remaining synthetic surfaces, and features a promising runner who began his career in Europe named Kasseopia.

Kasseopia

The El Camino Real Derby field will compete on Tapeta, one of the remaining synthetic surfaces, and features a promising runner who began his career in Europe named Kasseopia. Photo: Woodbine, Dawn Kay

After a nine-length win at Kempton Park near London, Team Valor International and Gary Barber purchased the son of Showcase and brought him to Woodbine Racetrack in Canada for the Grey Stakes (GIII), where he finished second to Riker. Rather than head to the Breeders’ Cup afterwards, Kasseopia received a break and now makes his return this weekend.

While competing on dirt appears possible later on, especially considering Team Valor’s success with synthetic and turf horses such as Animal Kingdom and Went the Day Well on Derby Day, they wish to stay on the artificial surface for now.

“He has trained well on the dirt, but we know he likes synthetic because he won on it in England, ran second on it in the Grade III at Woodbine and he trained well over the Tapeta at Fair Hill before leaving for South Florida,” explained Barry Irwin, Founder and CEO of Team Valor.

According to Kasseopia’s Equibase profile, most of his recent works came at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, before his final workout at Santa Anita Park in California on Feb. 8. Golden Gate is located in Albany, a five or six hour drive north of Santa Anita and near Berkeley. This colt likes to travel!

“He has an ideal temperament, which allows us to travel him across country with no worries,” wrote Irwin through a message.

“We like him in this spot.”

Considering the rest of the field, it is hard not to like Kasseopia in this spot. For instance, take a look at Frank Conversation, winner of the California Derby on the same racetrack and one of the main contenders.

California Derby runner-up Marqula, who also competes in the El Camino Real, lost two different ungraded stakes races and an optional claimer at Golden Gate before finishing second to Frank Conversation.

The third-place finisher, Algenon, lost two different ungraded stakes races and an optional claimer as well, and could only manage wins at Pleasanton and lowly Stockton in his eight-race career.

Frank Conversation finished fifth by over eight lengths in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) against the talented Mor Spirit and third in the Cecil B. DeMile (GIII). The two horses who finished 1-2 in the DeMile were Dressed in Hermes and Collected, two decent stakes runners who are likely not going to be competitive on the Derby trail.

If Frank Conversation wins on Saturday, his victory will not be too surprising, but it just seems the California-based horses are waiting for an outsider to sweep in, even in a synthetic prep race such as this one.

One interesting challenger is Mr. Coker, trained by the well-known Jerry Hollendorfer. Mr Coker ran second in his career debut on Dec. 26 to Danzing Candy, who some respected handicappers placed in their Derby Top 10. Danzing Candy had finished eighth to Uncle Lino previously, and Uncle Lino just ran second in the Robert B. Lewis (GII) last weekend.

While untested versus stakes company, Hollendorfer plays this game conservatively and only runs horses if they can win. Additionally, Mr. Coker’s sire Candy Ride excels with producing synthetic-ready horses and the Southern California shipper got a taste of Tapeta, as he worked four furlongs in 50.60 seconds this morning at Golden Gate.

Kasseopia holds the advantage, nonetheless. Give priority to the Team Valor colt, followed by Mr. Coker and then Frank Conversation. Coincidentally, Kasseopia’s dam is named Dream Again. If he wins convincingly, perhaps they will take the same path Animal Kingdom underwent (through Turfway Park), and Team Valor International can dream of the Derby once more.

El Camino Real Derby 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 7 3:45 PM PT
1 Kelly With a Twist 30-1 Cedillo/Calvario
2 Kasseopia 7-2 Van Dyke/Motion
3 Touched by Autism 30-1 Alvarado/Stortz
4 Mr. Coker 9-2 Gonzalez/Hollendorfer
5 Oscar 15-1 Dominguez Couton/Gallagher
6 San Dimas 20-1 Gonzalez/Harty
7 Marqula 8-1 Frey/Bonde
8 Tusk 15-1 Hernandez/Motion
9 Algenon 15-1 Martinez/Kasmerski
10 Diplodocus 15-1 Baze/Baltas
11 Go Long 20-1 Lope/Desormeaux
12 Frank Conversation 2-1 Gutierrez/O’Neill
13 Mana Strike 15-1 Mawing/Lucarelli
14 Giopress 20-1 Gomez/Gonzalez

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