Autism Awareness, a colt named to bring attention to the complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others, won the El Camino Real Derby at odds of 62-to-1. Autism Awareness paid $126.00 to win and garnered the attention of national turf writers, who wrote of the colt and his cause.
Autism Awareness is owned by Johnny Taboada, whose youngest son, Renzo, has autism.
"I'm both excited and nervous," said Taboada of Saturday's race. "This horse is special. We've given him a lot of time and he's had a lot of workouts since returning to the track. I've been out for all his works and everyone's pleased with how he's trained. He's coming off a long layoff but I wouldn't be surprised if he wins because he's got so much talent."
Trained by Genaro Vallejo, Autism Awareness will run in Saturday's first race, a one-mile allowance contest for 3-year-olds and up that attracted a field of six. Like Taboada, Vallejo is anxious to see his stable star run again.
"I'm excited because he's my big horse," said Vallejo. "So far, he looks great. I think he's ready. I'm very happy with the way he's come back. I hope he runs the way he ran last time."
Autism Awareness will break from post position four and be ridden for the first time by jockey Chris Landeros. Luis Contreras, who guided Autism Awareness to his stunner in the El Camino Real Derby, no longer rides in Northern California.
"Chris has been working the horse so we're giving the kid a shot," said Taboada.
Autism Awareness brings a two-race winning streak into Saturday's contest and is 6-to-1 on the morning line. The 8-to-5 morning line favorite is Running Rich, a 4-year-old colt who has won seven of his 19 lifetime starts.
Post time Saturday is 12:45 p.m. and fans attending the track will receive a free Golden Gate Fields umbrella.