This Saturday we'll have the 86th running of the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The purse is set to $750K and the winner will receive 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
This is a major prep race for the Run for the Roses. Over the last decade, three winners of the Santa Anita Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby: JUSTIFY, CALIFORNIA CHROME, and I'LL HAVE ANOTHER.
This year, the field of ten colts is headed by the Bob Baffert trainee, MEDINA SPIRIT, and they wiill run one mile and one-eigth over the dirt surface.
MEDINA SPIRIT is the most accomplished of the group and sits the highest on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard at 15th. The fact that the rest of the field are not even in the Top 20 hints at his class advantage.
MEDINA SPIRIT will be the likely favorite. He'll be joined by familiar foes, a few new ones, plus two out-of-towners shipping in for the contest. Here's the probable field.
BACK RING LUCK
THE GREAT ONE
ROCK YOUR WORLD
MEDINA SPIRIT is clearly the one to beat. He gets a break from chasing his stablemate LIFE IS GOOD, the only horse to have finished ahead of him since the start of his career. We can expect MEDINA SPIRIT to be sent early to take them gate to wire.
DREAM SHAKE for Peter Eurton could make the race quite interesting. Here's a rapidly improving colt who gained tremendous experience in his most recent start. He ran against arguably the best three-year-old in the country, LIFE IS GOOD, and was far from embarrassed. He ran a brave third, which is impressive considering he was stepping up from maiden company and routing for the first time. MEDINA SPIRIT was all out just to keep a neck in front of him at the wire. DREAM SHAKE's got a fighting chance to win and could offer generous odds, with sentimental betting money flooding to MEDINA SPIRIT.
ROCK YOUR WORLD will come off the turf and try his hooves on dirt for trainer John Sadler. He soundly defeated RED FLAG last time out in the Pasadena Stakes going shorter. He's the son of CANDY RIDE out of CHARM THE MAKER by EMPIRE MAKER. His breeding suggests he'll enjoy this trip.
OTTOTHELEGEND ships in from Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. He broke his maiden earlier this month going one mile and one-sixteenth over the dirt, and won going away. He hopes to give Steve Asmussen his first Santa Anita Derby victory.
THE GREAT ONE and PARNELLI have questions to answer. Yes, they've blasted maidens and recorded superb speed figures doing it. But their form didn't carry over against tougher, and they were non-factors against MEDINA SPIRIT and LIFE IS GOOD.
DEFUNDED is a new shooter for Bob Baffert. DEFUNDED enters off a maiden-breaking score from earlier this month. It looked ultra impressive the way maneuvered through traffic and exploded to the wire first, in hand. But also note that the horses in front of him were exhausted; the maidens ran 21.75 for their opening quarter and 44.94 for the half mile for a six-furlong sprint.
LAW PROFESSOR jumps on the Derby trail for trainer Michael McCarthy. He was 20-1 when he broke his maiden earlier this month, going one mile on this Santa Anita surface.
BACK RING LUCK is an interesting profile. He's won two in a row for trainer Al Cates. In his most recent effort, he won an allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park at odds of 23-1, but achieved an Equibase Speed Figure of 97! To put that in perspective, MEDINA SPIRIT earned a 98 winning the San Felipe Stakes, and DREAM SHAKE, a 94 figure also from the San Felipe Stakes. BACK RING LUCKY demonstrated he can run with the top two likely favorites, and if he moves forward off his last effort, he'll be tough to beat.