Thursday, April 1, 2010

Santa Anita Derby Racing Roundup

This Saturday, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send Lookin At Lucky, the 4-5 morning line favorite, to the starting gate for the 73rd running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1). But in a recent Daily Racing Form news story, Baffert seemed to downplay the importance of Lookin At Lucky’s favored status.

“It’s not a do-or-die race for me,” said Baffert. “If I can keep him fit and healthy, he can carry me the rest of the way [to the Kentucky Derby].”

The Silver Fox has been in this spot before.

Baffert has won the Santa Anita Derby a record five times and three of those horses – Pioneerof The Nile, Point Given and Indian Charlie - were the betting favorite at post time.

None of Baffert’s five previous Santa Anita Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby. However, several were favored in the Kentucky Derby: Pioneerof The Nile finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby; Point Given finished fifth in 2001; co-favored General Challenge finished in 11th place in 1999 and Indian Charlie finished third in 1998. Cavonnier, the 5-1 Kentucky Derby betting choice, finished second in 1996.

Although Baffert has never won the Kentucky Derby with a Santa Anita Derby winner, he did win the Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm who finished second in the 1997 Santa Anita Derby and Real Quiet who also finished second in the 1998 Santa Anita Derby.

So, we’ll see what happens Saturday.

Baffert definitely knows how to get his horses ready for the big race and I’m sure he is hoping that Lookin At Lucky gets an easy trip in the Santa Anita Derby. But at 4-5 odds, I’ll be looking for a couple of long shots for a small win, place wager and use them with Lookin At Lucky in the exotics.

That lands me on Skipshot (15-1) and Setsuko (20-1) who I believe have a decent chance to finish in the money or, with some luck, eek out a win.

Since transferring to the stable of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Skipshot has won three in row and he looks to be improving at the right time of year. Skipshot makes a big jump in class but his Brisnet Speed Figures make him more than competitive and a bullet work out March 28 indicates that he may be ready to run a good race.

With Skip Away as his sire and Sunny’s Halo as the damsire, the stretch out to 9-furlongs should not be a problem and I look for Skipshot to be competitive.

Richard Mandella also knows how to get his horses ready, too, and when Setsuko enters the gate he’s always ready to run. Setsuko comes into the Derby with a third-place finish in the Sham Stakes (G3) and he’s only missed hitting the board once in his seven previous starts. Setsuko has been working out better than he ever has and two back-to-back bullet work outs indicates that Setsuko may be ready to run a good race.


  1. How can you recommend Setsuko and ignore Alphie's Bet?

  2. Anonymous,

    I have not heard anything negative about Alphie's Bet but one thing that concerns me is that prior to the Sham, he fired two bullet work outs and his works since the race have been rather ho-hum.

    Another thing is that Alphie's Bet will probably be bet down to odds that would not be as profitable if Setsuko ran a good race. If I use Alphie's Bet it will probably be in the trifecta and superfecta.

  3. Beat the champ to become the champ.

    Not today!

    Lookin at Lucky is just simply to good for this field.

  4. Can't take anything away from the winner. The colt continues to improve each race.

    If Sydney relish the DIRT, it will certainly take a freak horse to outrun him to the wire.

    ESKY may just be that and I would not depart from Lookin at Lucky with a troubled trip, the bump cost him a complete lost of momentum and Lookin at Lucky re-rallied to close the gap!

    So Lookin at Lucky ability to race 1 1/8 distance is still at question. I did not like the fact the second place horse was 1 1/2 behind at the 1/16 pole and went by Lookin at Lucky to earned second place.

    That factor alone allows me to believe Sydney would have won the race anyway.

    I'm extremely puzzled by the Grade 1 races 6 furlong splits are 1:12 and beyond this year.

    Pace makes the race, so everyone who wins will look GREAT running behind such slow figures.

    Any ideas WHY!, have the trainer learn that most injuries may occur from running to fast to early and struggle home late, and thus, horses take missed steps when tired.

    So they have adjusted their horses.

    Now race to specific pace factors at 24 clicks and thus, the horse is reserved to a 6 furlong race to the wire. It makes since. But it changes the pace factors and thus, the winners as well.

    136 Kentucky Derby pace will it make to the 1:11 mark for 6 furlongs ?

  5. Barry,

    My friend vicstu at the Daily Racing Formblog community says that it's the jockey's fault. Unlike the old jockeys who vicstu claims had an internal clock in their head and could tell how a race was progressing, vicstu claims the new jockeys don't know how to tell time or gauge the pace of the race and that is why some races are allowed to go off with slow factions.

  6. Hi Calvin, of course that is one possibility. But, I have seen allowance races ran faster this year for the first 6 furlongs. . Leaning towards a change in training techniques.