Twilight Derby 2021 Entries: Sadler's Rock Your World returns to his grass roots

Trainer John Sadler has one of the highlights for the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita ... check out this preview below.
Trainer John Sadler has one of the highlights for the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita ... check out this preview below.
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Race 9: 1 1/8th (Turf), Twilight Derby (G2), Purse $200k, 3 (Sunday)

Roughly 10 years ago, the Grade 2 Twilight Derby was christened … since then, some impressive turf routers have worn the crown. Names like Rookie Sensation, Long On Value, Om, Frank Conversation, Sharp Samurai, River Boyne (IRE), Mo Forza, and last year’s winner, Smooth Like Strait have etched their names into the record books. A unique combination of speed and stamina is necessary to go 1 1/8th. Go too fast early … nothing might be left in the tank … go too slow, and you might have too much ground to make up. In other words, the perfect combination is necessary to win this one.

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Flashiest (Jky: A. Cedillo/Trn: L. Powell):

Trainer Leo Powell’s gelding had a pair of nice runs at Del Mar in July and September. In between the Oceanside 100k and the Del Mar Derby (G2), he shipped to NYRA’s Saratoga Derby (G1). That effort did not go well, but coming back to Santa Anita for this Grade 2 could prove profitable for those willing to invest. He will be longer on the tote … as a very average rider named Abel takes the mount.

Grade: C+


#2 Subconscious (Jky: JJ Hernandez/Trn: R. Mandella):

The Mandella Barn continues to put forward entries, and even though they do not have an expansive operation, it is still to be respected. The Tapit gelding is going to have to run the best race of his young career. There is talent here, but running against OC50k Co. is not like competing in a G2. Luckily, JJ Hernandez is in the irons for LNJ Foxwoods, and we will see if those recent works are a tell-tale sign of things to come.

Grade: B-


#3 Zoffarelli (IRE) (Jky: D. Van Dyke/Trn: J. Mullins):

Trainer Jeff Mullins’ 3-yr-old gelding had a nice U.S. debut in the La Jolla (G3) at Del Mar back in early August. The son of Zoffany (IRE) prior to that event was fighting lesser company over in the UK. I am not sure he is ready for the G2 level, and might be out of his depth. It is well-documented that Drayden Van Dyke is no the rider that he used to be. I am a fan of the jockey, and continue to hope that he can turn everything around. Today might not be the day …

Grade: C+


#4 Hudson Ridge (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: B. Baffert):

Bob Baffert is known for many things, but turf racing is not one of them. Still, he sends this son of American Pharoah back to Santa Anita after a summer at Del Mar. This distance really suits this colt, and he is 2/3 when going 1 1/8th. If he can weather the class hike (he didn’t @DMR), then he has a shot to score at what is going to be a price. Of course, with Flavien Prat aboard, the numbers may not end up being in the double-digit range. Too bad …

Grade: B


#5 None Above the Law (Jky: J. Bravo/Trn: P. Miller):

The Miller Band is one of the stronger contenders in this G2. This gelding by the budding turf sire Karakontie looks the part. I will never forget his father’s Breeders’ Cup performance at Santa Anita, and maybe this 3-yr-old can replicate his sire’s fortunes. He comes back to the LA-area riding a pair of wins that he garnered at Del Mar (DMR Derby win was a “signature moment”). There is form when it comes to the distance, dating back to the Snow Chief 150k in mid-June @SA. He lost by a neck that day … now, Joe Bravo gets the return call to ride in what is a much tougher spot.

Grade: B


#6 Wootton Assett (FR) (Jky: M. Smith/Trn: G. Motion):

Last November at Del Mar, Graham Motion sent this well-bred 2-yr-old out to SoCal to compete in a tough G3 contest. Not much worked out that day … though the son of Wooton Bassett (GB) did get the pleasure of circumventing the track. After a pair of dud races at Delaware and Pimlico (much closer to home), he finally notched his 1st U.S. score at Colonial Downs in the Virginia Derby (G3). Jose Ortiz gives way to Mike Smith, a legendary jockey who rarely rides on this surface. Hopefully, Motion’s expert instructions are clear. Settle … steer clear of traffic … and try to make a furious charge when the time is right. Maybe that is enough … hmm ...

Grade: B+


#7 Cathkin Peak (IRE) (Jky: J. Valdivia/Trn: P. D’Amato):

A well-bred gelding for the grass arrives for Phil D’Amato in this challenging spot. Last out, in the Del Mar Derby (G2) he was 47/1 at post time, and considering there were 12 others in the field, the son of Alhebayeb (IRE) did not fare poorly—4th. Now, coming back to Santa Anita, he will face an old foe, John Sadler’s Rock Your World #8. He lost in the Pasadena 100k to him … maybe some payback is in order? D’Amato is giving the keys to Jose Valdivia, a suspect lawn jockey at best.

Grade: B-


#8 Rock Your World (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: J. Sadler):

Even with the lack of recent turf experience, John Sadler’s colt by Candy Ride (ARG) will take significant money come Sunday. The versatile runner made a name for himself on the grass back in Jan.-Feb. before he moved to the dirt. His win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) did indeed “rock,” as he beat Medina Spirit at his own game. Sadler then had to watch a disappointing performance in KYD147, and another one in the last leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont. I like the move back to this surface, and probably would agree that he is the most talented runner in this field. A tepid “deserving favorite” would be the distinction. But still … a favorite nonetheless with expert rider Umberto Rispoli at the controls.

Grade: A-


#9 Jungle Cry (Jky: K. Frey/Trn: S. Specht):

The Golden Gate runners do not always get the respect that they deserve, and that is unfortunate. Here is a fine 3-yr-old gelding by Animal Kingdom that has shown promise when competing in “Non-G” events in NoCal. The dam side of his pedigree is laden with “turf,” so maybe Kyle Frey can harness some of that ability tactically speaking. If he can rate, lay close, and find a seam, then you never know if this one could have the breakout moment that his connections believe is possible. Steve Specht is a solid conditioner … what a win that would be for him!

Grade: C+


#10 Beyond Brilliant (Jky: K. Desormeaux/Trn: J. Shirreffs):

Here is another SoCal-based trainer that does not get out much on the grass. His numbers are solid in other statistical categories, and we all know that the name of John Shirreffs is connected to a number of positives. The son of Twirling Candy (an excellent turf sire), won last out at Del Mar in an OC80k affair. He took the field of 8 all the way, wire-to-wire, and looks to be a blossoming runner on this surface. But these are much deeper waters, and I am sure Shirreffs knows it. There is no more hot/cold rider on the green than Kent Desormeaux … he can ride with the best of them … and other times, not. This team is a bunch of wild cards …

Grade: B-


Join us Sunday for all of our Santa Anita selections! Should be a great set of races from “The Great Race Place!”

Century Mile Race 13 20:15 ET

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