The Santa Anita Derby is the major Kentucky Derby prep for the Southern California circuit, and this year’s edition seems to have a nice field assembled. Earlier this week it was learned that one of the morning line favorites, Hear the Ghost, would be scratched and taken off the Road to the Kentucky Derby. With the scratch, a field of eight will be going 9 furlongs.
It appears as though Flashback will be the heavy favorite in the Santa Anita Derby. He is immensely talented, and Bob Baffert seems to think that he gained a ton from the trip in the San Felipe Stakes. If he’s matured some, which it sounds like he has, I expect him to be sitting just off the speed (Goldencents, Super Ninety Nine) and working out a very nice trip. He has ability – is his head in the game yet? He’s still lightly raced…at the price he’s going to be tomorrow, I’m going elsewhere.
Super Ninety Nine was dreadful in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn last month, and it didn’t seem as though there was a legitimate reason for his poor performance. He’s run well over the Santa Anita strip, but that huge number he received in the Southwest Stakes on an off track is hard for me to shake. Add in the likes of Goldencents that will more likely than not be pressing the pace early, and I don’t love Super Ninety Nine in this position.
I’ve never considered Goldencents a true Derby contender, simply because I think he has major distance limitations. I thought he would run much better and more professionally in the San Felipe Stakes, but that wasn’t the case. As the races get longer, the less I like Goldencents. He’s a toss for me tomorrow.
Tiz a Minister ran huge in the San Felipe, but he surely took advantage of the hot pace that was set up front. The same was said about Hear the Ghost – so if you liked one, you kinda had to like the other and vice versa. I was a big fan of Hear the Ghost, and I thought Tiz a Minister ran a very admirable race as well. There should be a decent amount of pace in the Santa Anita Derby, but there are also some new shooters in this spot. I like him underneath tomorrow.
While I think the Wood Memorial would have been a better spot for him to return in, I’ve got to go with Power Broker to win the Santa Anita Derby. All things considered, I think he’s the most talented runner of the group – it’s just going to be really difficult for him to come back from a five month layoff to take down a Grade I. I anticipate him to sit just off the pacesetters and get a nice trip. Rafael Bejarano gets aboard, and Bob Baffert wouldn’t be running him here if he didn’t think he was ready to fire. I like Power Broker to take down the Santa Anita Derby.
SELECTION: 3 – Power Broker, Rafael Bejarano; ML 4-1