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Santa Anita Derby runners have sights set on Louisville

Lookin at Lucky (left #2 saddlecloth) will be favored in the Santa Anita Derby
Lookin at Lucky (left #2 saddlecloth) will be favored in the Santa Anita Derby
AP Photo/Danny Johnston

The Kentucky Derby is the most coveted prize in horse racing. Every year the nation's top 3-year-old horses load into the gate preparing to have a thrilling victory watched by millions. When the horse wears the roses, he or she places its name in the history book and becomes an instant celebrity. The race is wide open with endless possibilities which is enough reason for trainers and owners to take a shot at the first Saturday in May.

This will be a look at the probable 3-year-olds for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, April 3:

1. Lookin at Lucky - (Smart Strike-Private Feeling) Trainer: Bob Baffert                          

He has been the top 3-year-old in the country for over a year. He is the model of consistency and has proved he can run on dirt when he won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He has more than enough graded earnings and is going to be one of the top three favorites in the Kentucky Derby. His Hall of Fame trainer has won this race before and learned a lesson last year after his campaign with Pioneerofthenile. 

2. Caracortado - (Cat's Dreams-Mons Venus) Trainer: Mike Machowsky

The story of the year if he makes the Kentucky Derby field. He began his career with a win at Fairplex Park which is more known for the LA County Fair. He has since shown a lot of talent and a good showing at Santa Anita will get him to Louisville. His jockey, Paul Atkinson, is not a big name jockey but has ridden him perfectly to date.

3.Setsuko - (Pleasantly Perfect-Dance with Grace) Trainer: Richard Mandella

This is a horse that many experts think has plenty of ability. To this point he has not shown a great ability to win. He has a big closing kick, but has done all of it running on turf or synthetic. Finished well in the Sham Stakes but will running second or third warrant a shot at the derby? His pedigree says the distance should be no problem.

4.Sidney's Candy - (Candy Ride (ARG)-Fair Exchange) Trainer: John Sadler

Probably the fastest horse of the field. His running style says come and catch me. Has been very impressive in his two comeback efforts and his trainer is going for the training title here at Santa Anita. Not sure how his running style will work in the Kentucky Derby, but if he runs big at Santa Anita, the bettors will have another contender to think about.

5. Cardiff Giant - (Yankee Gentleman-Stop the Croquet) Trainer: Mike Puhich

Definitely some questions as far as distance and if he has the class to beat this field. But he has run well on dirt and synthetic and keeps improving with every start. He needs to step it up to get the graded earnings he needs, but can really shock the field with a patient ride behind a hot pace.

6. Alphie's Bet - (Tribal Rule-Miss Alphie) Trainer: Alexis Barba

Won very impressively in the Sham Stakes and is coming into his own. His trainer feels like he improves as the races get longer, which can not be said for some of these. Could pose a great threat to Baffert's champ and adds another contender to a very deep field.

7. Thomas Baines - (Johannesburg-Foofaraw) Trainer: Doug O'Neill

His trainer really likes him. He has been competing with horses up north at Golden Gate Fields so this is a whole new class level. The pedigree may seem to favor turf, but he did win nicely when returning here to Santa Anita. Fresh and improving could provide a shocker in the derby.

8. Posse Power - (Posse-Stellarina) Trainer: Frank Lucarelli

His pedigree says he is not going to improve much with distance, but who knows these days. Ran on well at Golden Gate in the El Camino Real Derby and deserves a look in this race. He had a pretty good trip that day and needs to really show more to find a spot in the top three.

9. Who's Up - (Graeme Hall-Divine Rockette) Trainer: Mike Puhich

He has been off awhile but must be doing well to be placed in this spot. His trainer does know what to do with a good horse and could make some noise if he is ready to fire. That is a big "if".

10. Stephen's Got Hope - (Stephen Got Even-Susan's Hope) Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Ran a decent fifth in the San Felipe Stakes. Showed a bit of a closing kick but will need to step it up if he hopes to run them down in the lane. He has a similar running style to his stablemate which may mean one will be closer to the pace.

11. Skipshot - (Skip Away-Heavenly Note) Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Beat an allowance field at Golden Gate Fields and can get the distance. His trainer wouldn't run just to finish last, so has a longshot look.



  • Ed 5 years ago

    Great Preview of the Santa Anita Derby. I hope we hear more of your projected winners as the season develops. You are one of the really relevant current horse racing writers and analysts. I am an old hand at this game, and I think you are "spot on."

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