Following his recent “monstrous’ success at Santa Anita, Magnificent McCool could be on the road to the Kentucky Derby with Trainer Doug O’Neill planning a trajectory that ends at Churchill Downs.
Having shown plenty of promise in five previous starts, the Giant’s Causeway Colt showed some of the ability his connections were always convinced he had to run out an eased down five length winner of a Special Weight Maiden. Running on the turf for the first time the now three-year-old bounced from the gates well and was settled off the speed by jockey Flavian Prat. Looking full of running as the field began the turn for home he eased away while given minimal urgings form the man in the saddle to win with plenty to spare and leave a taking impression on his trainer.
“I’m super excited about the horse.” Raved Doug O’Neill a few days after the race. “He ran monstrous and he’s beginning to show his true ability. He looks to be improving all the time.”
Although the colt showed a liking for the turf its not as if he hadn’t performed well in some dirt races and O’Neill is convinced he can fulfil his potential on both surfaces with some big plans in mind.
“Although he ran a huge race on the grass I don’t see him as a ‘grass-only’ horse.” Explained the Santa Anita based handler. “I’d love to point him to the Derby Prep Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in a month or so. It’s on the synthetic surface and will earn us some Derby points as well as keeping the race from being too tough off his impressive maiden win. With a little luck he could be our Derby horse.”
That race is the El Camino Real Derby to be run on February 16th. Down the years Northern California’s Premier Derby Prep has seen it’s runners and winners go on to achieve big things. Charismatic used the mile and one eighth distance to warm up for his Kentucky Derby success in the 1999 while Tabasco Cat took the title before winning both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This year the winner of the El Camino will not only gain 10 Derby points but also win an all-expense paid berth into the middle jewell of the Triple Crown.