The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve may be months away, but the connections of Chase the Chaos enjoyed the sweet thrill of victory in another Derby – the $101,350 El Camino Real Derby – Feb. 11 at Golden Gate Fields .
Jockey Armando Ayuso punched the air as he galloped beneath the finish line aboard the Pennsylvania-bred son of Astern, who ran down seven rivals to secure his first stakes score by 1 1/2 lengths.
“I want to thank God, the owners, and the trainer Mr. Moger and his team,” Ayuso said. “They do an awesome job. You can’t feel any better than this. This is a horse we’ve been training here, and we’ve just gone little by little with him. He’s been improving every race.”
Entered in the 1 1/8-mile test on the all-weather Tapeta surface off a Dec. 30 allowance-level score at Golden Gate, the 3-year-old bay gelding fired fresh for Ed Moger Jr.. After saving ground and tracking well off the pace set by Bob Baffert trainee Nullabor, who went the opening quarter in :23.34 and opened up on the field by 5 1/2 lengths on :47.52 and 1:12.64 fractions, Chase the Chaos was set down for the drive from sixth at the quarter pole and quickly made up ground with a strong late rally. He outfinished another Baffert trainee, favored Gilmore, through a 1:38.73 mile and stopped the clock in 1:51.68. Harcyn completed the trifecta.
With the win, Chase the Chaos ($10.40) will have his connections deliberating over whether to make him eligible to participate in the Triple Crown, for which they would need to pay a late nomination fee of $6,000. The second closing date for Triple Crown nominations is March 27. In the balance are a free automatic berth into the Preakness Stakes, as well as 10 points toward a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby, npth of which he would receive as a Triple Crown nominee.
Horses trained by Baffert are ineligible to accrue points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby due to a suspension given to him by Churchill Downs Inc. for medication violations. As a result, his two starters —Gilmore (second) and Nullarbor (fifth) — were not awarded points. Should other El Camino Real participants ultimately become Triple Crown nominees, Harcyn could receive three points for third, and Passarando two points for fourth.
The El Camino Real Derby win improved Chase the Chaos’s record to 3-2-1 from six starts, with earnings of $123,000. Chase the Chaos clearly relished the increase in distance. He earlier finished second in the Gold Rush Stakes going a mile at Golden Gate on Dec. 3 and third in the Nov. 12 Golden Nugget Stakes at six furlongs. He shipped to California and joined Moger’s barn after breaking his maiden in his second start Sept. 17 going a mile on the turf at Canterbury Park for prior trainer Robertino Diodoro.