Derby Trail Stakes Preview – Santa Anita Derby (G1)

The third of the Derby preps today is at Santa Anita, the Santa Anita Derby, which goes as Race 8. As the horses crossed the wire in the San Felipe four weeks ago, it looked like Mastery would be about 3-5 in here, but he was injured that day and as a result, we have a very wide open Derby prep race.

Previously – Our previews of the Blue Grass and Wood Memorial.

Let’s go through the field.

– Term of Art (12-1) – Doug O’Neill sends out this one who was third in the San Felipe. He’s an improving late runner that should get some pace in here. While he didn’t threaten in that race, nobody did behind Mastery. He’s definitely headed in the right direction should be a good price.

2 – Reach the World (5-1) – Bob Baffert has a few runners in this race, and this is the first one. He comes out of a second place finish in a March 9th allowance race in which he was narrowly defeated by Battle of Midway (our next runner). Of the two, we prefer Reach the World, who had some traffic around the turn while Battle of Midway, while wide, was in the clear. Reach the World leveled off nicely late and give the impression the stretch to 9 furlongs will be a big asset. Plus, having Bob Baffert in his corner can only be a plus.

3 – Battle of Midway (5-1) – Of course, this one has Jerry Hollendorfer in his corner, another plus! Nothing against Battle of Midway, who ran fine last time, we just prefer Reach the World. Battle of Midway was able to stalk in the clear, and maybe he made the lead too soon, but it also looked like Reach the World was the one who would benefit from the extra half-furlong. They’ll both have to run faster.

4 – Comma Sister (50-1) – He just looks too slow and overmatched.

5 – So Conflated (8-1) – He was promising after a December 26th allowance win for Doug O’Neill but after a synthetic win, was awful in the Gotham despite getting a fast pace to attack. Maybe he didn’t ship well or like the inner-track at Aqueduct, but overall it was a pretty poor performance and it makes him tough to endorse.

6 – American Anthem (5-1) – He was a horse we really liked after his impressive Sham Stakes win in January, but was bad in the Rebel at Oaklawn three weeks ago. Still, in that race, he didn’t break sharply and was wide the whole way before stopping. The fact that he’s right back in here three weeks later says we can throw out that last race. If he runs back to the Sham, when he set a very fast pace and was just caught late by Gormley, he has a huge chance here.

7 – Kimbear (12-1) – He’s a possible pace horse stretching out after a 7-furlong allowance win for Eric Kruljac. But it’s tough to see him outlasting everyone stretching to nine furlongs.

8 – Gormley (9-2) – He beat American Anthem in an excellent Sham Stakes in January but disappointed in the San Felipe. While nobody was beating Mastery that day, he was the first of the speed horses to drop back and gave way without much resistance. That is a concern but he should be in better position for this one, his second start off the layoff. We’re mixed, but wouldn’t want to take him at the short price that he’ll likely go off.

9 – Iliad (9-2) – He ran pretty well in the San Felipe, but was dropping back through the lane behind Mastery. Today, he has to go an extra half-furlong and deal with more pace, all while being a short-price. He’ll beat us.

10 – Milton Freewater (30-1) – Doug O’Neill is taking a shot with this California-bred, but he looks a bit overmatched.

11 – Irish Freedom (20-1) – He had a tough trip in the Battle of Midway allowance race, going very wide all the away around before flattening out late. But it’s hard to envision a scenario where he jumps up as far as he’ll need to here to spring the upset. He’s usable underneath, if only because of Bob Baffert and the 20-1 odds.

12 – Midnight Pleasure (30-1) – Mick Ruis sends out this allowance runner who was third in the Del Mar Futurity last year. Still, he’s stretching out from 6.5 to 9 furlong and seems a pace factor at best.

13 – Royal Mo (10-1) – The other Sherrifs runner (Gormley), like American Anthem, Royal Mo disappointed in the Rebel. He had an outside post, was sent up to press the pace, but was ridden very hard on the far turn and dropped back from there. His big win two-back was on an easy lead, and he is going to have to be used from a terrible post here.

The Pace – It should be fast with a few stretch-out sprinters, the speedy Iliad, and outside-drawn runners like Royal Mo and Midnight Pleasure that will have to be used early.

The Pick – We’re going with Reach the World to spring the upset but also want to use Term of Art and American Anthem equally in any multi-race wager.

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