With just seven horses signed up, it’s hard to imagine finding much in the way of wagering value in Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby. But with Sheer Flattery a dubious 7-5 morning line favorite, I think bettors might just be pleasantly surprised.
This is not to say that I think Sheer Flattery, who was last seen finishing third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita a mere two weeks ago, has no chance. After all, the colt’s trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, has won the Northern California feature a half-dozen times.
However, there are several reasons I think the son of Flatter will be up against it at Golden Gate Fields:
1) He is switching surfaces — from dirt to Tapeta. While that’s not a huge deal, I am a bit concerned that none of Sheer Flattery’s recent late speed rations (LSRs) meet the race par. In fact, they don’t even come close. The par is -4; Sheer Flattery’s best LSR is a -11.
2) Although he’s 7-5 on the morning line, the fact is Sheer Flattery hasn’t exactly been a win machine. In fact, his only score came against maidens… by a nose… over a sloppy track.
3) Ann Arbor Eddie. Simply put, I think Doug O’Neill’s charge is the best horse in the race and he has a pace advantage to boot.
Like the probable race favorite, Ann Arbor Eddie has never run over an artificial surface, but his breeding — he’s by Square Eddie — leads me to believe he’ll adapt just fine.
“Square Eddies seem to be able to run on everything,” O’Neill said.
What’s more, Ann Arbor Eddie’s LSRs are very good, especially considering they were earned on the dirt. With a projected slow pace, I think O’Neill’s stable star can set or press the early pace on Saturday and I believe he will be very tough to overhaul down the lane.
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