The history of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) is a tale of an annual race that has produced some major players in the 3-yr-old colt division. Recently, those that finish in the Top 4, pocket KYD “Points” that range from … 100-40-20-10. In the last 4 contests, jockey Mike Smith has won 3 … Justify led to Roadster then Honor A.P. That is 2 Bob Bafferts and a John Shirreffs’ … this threesome displayed sheer power as the HOF rider guided them through the 9 furlongs for the win. However, last year it was Umberto Rispoli who celebrated in the winner’s circle, as he took John Sadler’s Rock Your World to the wire for the victory. The capstone race of the Santa Anita Meet, this year’s route appears to be yet another competitive contest. It is going to be nothing short of a stellar competition to earn tickets to the Kentucky Derby!
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Happy Jack (Jky: A. Cedillo/Trn: D. O’Neill):
There is not much respect for this Doug O’Neill-trainee, especially when you consider that the colt by Oxbow is 20/1 on M/L. I think he deserves a bit more than that, especially when you consider that he has competed in both the Bob Lewis (G3) and the San Felipe (G2). I realize that those efforts dot not seem like much to look at, but you never know. O’Neill is a master at spotting, and even though Abel Cedillo has not notched a victory since his debut aboard this runner … you never really know. Outside of the 2 favorites, this would be a pretty solid pick, in my estimation.
#2 Armagnac (Jky: D. Van Dyke/Trn: T. Yakteen):
I wonder internally if Tim Yakteen is really feeling the pressure … in the wake of Baffert’s poor decision-making. Here is an SF/Starlight runner that has a couple of works to his credit. The work of Drayden Van Dyke was once the toast of Arcadia, but it has been a longtime since that apprentice rider “wowed” the crowds of “The Great Race Place.” Perhaps he can capture some of that old magic? This former Baffert runner was none-to-good last time out in the San Felipe. If he can improve … take a step forward … then there is a chance … but it is fleeting …
#3 Forbidden Kingdom (Jky: JJ Hernandez/Trn: R. Mandella):
Trainer Richard Mandella has a long history of success … of course, the Breeders’ Cup is his bailiwick ... This son of Quality Road is one of those Spendthirft/MyRacehorse types that is sure to excite the masses. It is hard to pick against this runner because the son of American Pharaoh has just been stellar in his recent starts. The San Vicente (G2) and the San Felipe (G2) could not have gone better … The question really is … what if he is challenged on the frontend? How will Juan Hernandez handle such an event? There is no question that this 3-yr-old is a deserved favorite, but I am not sure he secures the top spot … the shadow of Baffert looms!
#4 Messier (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: T. Yakteen):
Here is what could be my pick to “win” the Kentucky Derby 148 … Old Tim Yakteen sure inherited an “ace” in this former Baffert runner. He was absolutely stellar in the Bob Lewis (G3) back in early February. It was a stellar performance … going away by 15-lengths. What is to stop this son of Empire Maker from doing it once more. Johnny V is back aboard, and this one has the power to get the job done. If you are into the KYD Future Wager, then the time might be here to place a massive bet. I like his chances, even against Mandella’s formidable runner … Baffert’s shadow is still prevalent … isn’t that something?
#5 Win the Day (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: D. O’Neill):
Last year, Umberto Rispoli was the captain aboard Rock Your World … John Sadler celebrated … but it was Spendthrift that reaped the reward by making him a sire. Maybe this jockey, who is bound for Kentucky, can make the difference … taking a MSW Co. runner into the limelight? I am not so sure … The Boat Racing Boys are dreaming once again, and we all know what happened last time that they did that with Hot Rod Charlie. Can lightning strike twice? We shall see … I don’t think so, but you never know when it comes to colts that are on the make.
#6 Taiba (Jky: M. Smith/Trn: T. Yakteen):
Here is yet another Baffert runner that is in the stead of Tim Yakteen … This trainer must be under the gun, trying to keep pace with all that is asked of him. Zedan Racing owns this one … need we say more? Amir is quite a provocateur, and he knows how to mix it up with the best of them. This well-bred son of Gun Runner was certainly high-priced at $1700k … no, that isn’t a typo … We can surmise that he expects to win in a spot like this one. The HOF jockey, Mike Smith, gets the call, and we know what his record is like in a race like the SA Derby. Can this colt win the day? I am not so sure, especially considering who he is up against. But Zedan … he expects results, and wants to win more than anybody. The dark mark of Medina Spirit still rings solidly … How will it all shake out? We shall see …
Join us Saturday for all of our Santa Anita Selections! Should be a fabulous set of races from none other than “The Great Race Place!” Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!