Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert owns the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Since 1996, He’s won six Derbies making him the trainer with the most wins in the coveted $750,000 graded-stakes race at Santa Anita Park. Today, Baffert will try to extend his win margin when he sends Flashback, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, Power Broker (5-1) and Super Ninety Nine (6-1) to the starting gate in the 76th running of the Derby.
Far be it for me, to question the wisdom of the Master.
But, of the trio, I like Flashback the best. He comes into today’s race with a 2-1-0 record in three starts, including a win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), and a second-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) where he lost by a half-length to Hear The Ghost who was scratched from today’s race.
In his last race, Flashback got caught in a speed duel with Goldencents (6-1) for the lead in the San Felipe Stakes (G2). The fractions were swift and that could have cost Flashback – who appears to have good speed for a short distance – the win that day.
Since that race, jockey Garret Gomez has picked up the mount on Flashback and I look for him to settle Flashback off the pace of the early leaders.
The form of Flashback is similar to that of his sire Tapit who also was a lightly raced colt. As a 2-year-old, Tapit easily won his maiden debut by 7¾-lengths, and closed out the season with a 4¾-length win in the Laurel Futurity. In his debut as a 3-year-old, Tapit finished sixth in the Florida Derby (G1) and followed that with a win in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) en route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
A chilly ride just off the leaders and Flashback could, perhaps, bring home victory number seven for the Hall of Famer, Baffert.
This is the time of year I look for big improvement in 3-year-old colts. Since finishing second in his 3-year-old debut, the well-seasoned Tiz a Minister (6-1), with 10 career starts, has finished in the money, compiling a 1-1-1 record in his last three races.
In his last start, after trailing at the back of the herd, Tiz a Minister made a four-wide move in the final turn of the San Felipe and rallied in the stretch to finish third, one length shy of victory.
Another improvement in the performance of his last race, and a recent bullet workout at Betfair Hollywood Park, could have Tiz a Minister ready to run a good race in the stretch out to 9-furlongs in the Santa Anita Derby.
Super Ninety Nine is a talented colt and he comes into today’s race with a 3-1-0 record in six starts, including a romping 11¼-length win at Oaklawn Park in the Southwest Stakes (G3) and an off-the-board, fifth-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2).
Super Ninety Nine could, perhaps, rebound off of his dismal finish in the Rebel Stakes. With Pulpit as his sire and Unbridled’s Song as the damsire, Super Ninety Nine should be competitive. But, I’m not so sure that 9-furlongs will be his best distance.
Honorable mention goes to Power Broker (5-1) and the long shot bomb, Dirty Swagg (50-1), who have the pedigree to be competitive, but they have yet to live up to their breeding.
Power Broker has not raced since last November and he comes into today’s race with a 1-1-1 record in five starts. His 6½-length romp in the Frontrunner Stakes (1) last September was visually impressive. But a month later, Power Broker flopped in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
The Derby is a tough spot for Power Broker to make his debut as a 3-year-old. A return to his previous form could, perhaps, make him competitive in today's race.
Dirty Swagg comes into this race with a 1-0-1 in eight starts. He’s yet to have a real impact in any his races and if he’s going to be competitive, the stretch out to 9-furlongs could be what he needs.
Street Hero, the sire of Dirty Swagg, won the 2008 running of the Norfolk Stakes (G1) and he’s also a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line. Dirty Swagg’s damsire, Tabasco Cat, and Conquistador Cielo, the sire of the second dam, were both Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
Dirty Swagg has been working good and a recent bullet workout could have him ready to run a good race. If he looks good in the paddock and post parade, I may have a small wager on Dirty Swagg in the exotics with the favorite, Flashback, and Tiz a Minister.
The winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) will receive 100 points while second-place will yield 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated March 30, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Orb, 150, Shug McGaughey III, $840,000
2 = Revolutionary, 110, Todd Pletcher, $720,000
3 = Lines of Battle, 100, Aidan O’Brien, $1,261,089
4 = Will Take Charge, 60, D. Wayne Lukas, $512,971
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 50, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $593,600
6 = Vyjack, 50, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
7 = Govenor Charlie, 50, Bob Baffert, $400,000
8 = Black Onyx, 50, Kelly Breen, $317,130
9 = Verrazano, 50, Todd Pletcher, $210,000
10 = Hear the Ghost, 50, Jerry Hollendorfer, $195,400
11 = Mylute, 42, Tom Amoss, $363,365
12 = Oxbow, 36, D. Wayne Lukas, $316,000
13 = Uncaptured, 30, Mark Casse, $394,674
14 = Flashback, 30, Bob Baffert, $180,000
15 = Goldencents, 29, Doug O’Neill, $758,000
16 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
17 = Java’s War, 22, Ken McPeek, $201,772
18 = Merit Man, 20, Bob Hess Jr., $357,500
19 = Den’s Legacy, 20, Bob Baffert, $325,000
20 = Falling Sky, 20, John Terranova II, $157,500