© 2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
A field of only eight young Thoroughbreds will go to the post Saturday in the 77th running of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park. Post time is 6:30 p.m., ET and live coverage of the race, as well as the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 5:30 p.m., ET. Let’s take a look at the Derby.
California Chrome has been installed as the early 6-5 morning-line favorite and by all appearances he looks like the horse to beat. In nine starts he’s only finished off the board three times and he comes into the Derby with a 5-1-0 record. Almost all of his races have been in stakes competition and his last three races were blowout victories.
There’s no doubt that California Chrome is a talented, fast colt. In his last race, he put on a superb performance winning the San Felipe Stakes (G2), in front-running style, by 7¼-lengths. The mile split for that race was a blistering 1:33.94 and his finish time of 1:40.59 is several ticks faster the speedster Social Inclusion who’s also running this weekend in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1).
I look for California Chrome to be competitive in the Derby but the one question I have for all of these speed horses is how well they will finish after running 9-furlongs.
Candy Boy (9-5) is also another fast horse who comes into this race with 2-2-0 record in six starts for trainer John Sadler. Candy Boy is a fast colt, too. His finish time of 1:41.83 in the 8½-furlong Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) is the kind of time I like to see a young colt on the Derby Trail.
However, unlike California Chrome, Candy Boy likes to come from off the pace. I look for him to be competitive and I’ll be watching to see how well he finishes the race.
Hoppertunity, the 3-1 third-choice on the morning line, is the colt who interests me most in this race. He comes into the Derby with 2-0-0 record for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert and owners Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman.
While Hoppertunity does not possess fast speed like California Chrome, he does have good speed and his breeding indicates that the stretch out to 9-furlongs will not be a problem for the son of Any Given Saturday who also was a competitive middle-distance horse.
On the Derby Trail in 2007, Any Given Saturday finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes en route to an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Later in the season, Any Given Saturday went on to win the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Brooklyn Handicap (G2), both at 9-furlongs.
Unaccounted For, the damsire of Hoppertunity, was a multiple graded stakes winner who was competitive from 9 to 10 furlongs. His most notable stakes wins at 9 furlongs was in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1). In 10-furlongs competition, Unaccounted For finished second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Jockey Mike Smith rode Hoppertunity in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and he retains the mount in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). I look for both to be competitive in this race.
A couple of interesting-looking long shots I like in the Derby are Big Tire (20-1) and Schoolofhardrocks (10-1).
Big Tire has yet to run in stakes competition and he comes into this race with a 1-2-0 record in six starts for trainer Mark Glatt and owners Donkey Island Racing LLC and Halo Farms. After six attempts, Big Tire finally broke his maiden in his last race by a narrow nose victory. The final time of 1:35.52 is right in the ball park of what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby Trail.
With Candy Ride as his sire and Giant’s Causeway as his damsire, Big Tire should be able to handle the stretch out to 9 furlongs and, perhaps, spring an upset at a nice price.
The tail-female line of Big Tire descends from the Reines-de-Course mare and Matriarch of the Turf Rough Shod in the sixth generation who was an important influence in the pedigrees of Lt. Stevens, Ridan, Moccasin, Gambetta, Thong, Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, Montjeu, Galileo, Miesque, Peteski, Peintre Celebre, Big Brown and Unusual Heat to name a few.
Schoolofhardrocks comes into this race off of a fourth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and another move forward could make him competitive.
2014 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Vicar’s In Trouble, 120, Mike Maker, $760,000
2. Toast of New York, 100, Jamie Osborne, $1,200,000
3. Constitution, 100, Todd Pletcher, $600,000
4. Intense Holiday, 93, Todd Pletcher, $527,500
5. Wildcat Red, 90, Jose Garrofalo, $665,000
6. We Miss Artie, 60, Todd Pletcher, $544,000
7. Samraat, 60, Rick Violette, Jr., $450,000
8. Hoppertunity, 55, Bob Baffert, $376,000
9. Chitu, 54, Bob Baffert, $440,000
10. Midnight Hawk, 52, Bob Baffert, $320,000
11. Ring Weekend, 50, Graham Motion, $210,000
12. California Chrome, 50, Art Sherman, $182,250
13. General A Rod, 40, Mike Maker, $240,000
14. Tapiture, 42, Steve Asmussen, $420,738
15. Albano, 34, Larry Jones, $190,000
16. Cairo Prince, 24, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $520,000
17. Uncle Sigh, 24, Gary Contessa, $150,000
18. Vinceremos, 20, Todd Pletcher, $190,000
19. Harry’s Holiday, 20, Mike Maker, $150,596
20. Commanding Curve, 20, Dallas Stewart, $104,000