Paved winning the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields - © Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography

Paved winning the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields – © Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography

Question: When was the last time a filly won a Kentucky Derby prep race?

Prior to yesterday, and subject to correction, the most recent example I could think of was Evita Argentina beating colts in the 2009 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) sprinting seven furlongs at Santa Anita. Nine years and one day later, we finally saw another filly prevail in a Derby prep race when Paved rallied to victory in yesterday’s $100,000 El Camino Real Derby over the synthetic Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields.

Coming off of an eye-catching maiden victory on turf at Santa Anita, Paved was sent off as the narrow favorite to win while making her Tapeta debut. The surface switch proved to be no issue, as Paved settled a few lengths behind fractions of :23.60, :47.82, and 1:12.01 while saving ground, then casually shifted out and rallied to the lead under a hand ride to win by 1 ¼ lengths.

Paved’s final time of 1:50.04 wasn’t all that quick at first glance, though it was actually the second-fastest edition of the El Camino Real Derby since the race was lengthened to nine furlongs and move from Bay Meadows to Golden Gate Fields in 2009. Remarkably, it was also Paved’s second victory going nine furlongs, a noteworthy fact considering that the majority of Kentucky Derby contenders have never tried nine furlongs by this time of year.

Unfortunately, it appears that this particular renewal of the El Camino Real Derby is unlikely to have much of an impact on the Kentucky Derby trail. None of the top four finishers—Paved, City Plan, Blended Citizen, and Mugaritz—are nominated to the Triple Crown, and post-race reports indicate that Paved will be returning to turf for the foreseeable future, making a Kentucky Derby run unlikely.

If a Derby contender is going to emerge from the El Camino Real Derby it will probably be City Plan, who rallied from far behind and made up 3 ¼ lengths in the final furlong to finish second. Trained by Eoin Hart and owned by Godolphin Racing, City Plan is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, giving City Plan a very classic-oriented pedigree. Although his two graded stakes efforts to date (both on dirt) have yielded poor showings, City Plan did break his maiden going a mile on dirt at Los Alamitos and might be start starting to put everything together.

What did you think of the El Camino Real Derby results?