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2014 Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita

I'll Have AnotherWe’re right at a month away from this year’s Kentucky Derby and the competition is getting fierce! Last week we caught the lightly raced Constitution winning the Florida Derby by a neck over Wildcat Red and Vicar’s In Trouble nabbed a 3 ½ length victory in the Louisiana Derby. This weekend’s battles will take place in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. Both races are worth 100 Derby points to the winner, 40 to the second place finishers, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. We’ve been keeping up with the Derby points system this year and you can get all of that info along with the leaderboard and race replays here- 2014 Kentucky Derby Points System. The Santa Anita Derby started in 1935 and has seen some great horses grace its winner’s circle including Swaps, Candy Spots, Sham, Affirmed, Winning Colors, Sunday Silence, A. P. Indy, Point Given and I’ll Have Another. Gary Stevens holds the jockey record for most wins at 9 and Bob Baffert holds the trainer record for most wins at 6. Both will be looking to increase those records in this year’s Santa Anita Derby.

The Santa Anita Derby

California ChromeThe $1,000,000 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby is the 8th race on the card at Santa Anita and will host a field of 8 three year olds traveling 1 1/8 mile. The 6/5 morning line favorite is California Chrome. California Chrome is on a 3 win streak having won the King Glorious at Hollywood by 6 ¼ lengths, the California Cup Derby by 5 ½ lengths and the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita by 7 ¼ lengths. Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, there is no doubt that California Chrome will be the one to beat here. I’ve been a fan of this colt since before his win in the Graduation at Del Mar last year and although I think it will be tough for any of the competition to best him here, let’s see if we can find some value. Many are looking at Candy Boy to be California Chrome’s rival in this one. Candy Boy is 9/5 on the ML and will be ridden by Gary Stevens. As stated earlier, Stevens is looking to break his own record here with a 10th win in the Santa Anita Derby, but I’m not entirely convinced. He’ll certainly be up in the mix, but for value I like Hoppertunity at 3/1. HoppertunityHoppertunity grabbed a 4th place finish in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds back in February and followed that up with a ½ of a length win in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn. When you compare all three tracks (Fair Grounds, Oaklawn and Santa Anita) you can get a glimpse of what this horse is capable of. Fair Grounds has the longest stretch run in the country and it showed in Hoppertunity’s 4th place finish. He came from way back and the lengthy stretch just took too much of a toll on him. Trainer Bob Baffert (who is looking to break his record in this event, too) then shipped Hoppertunity up to Oaklawn for the Rebel. This time Mike Smith got the mount and took the win with Hoppertunity. The track at Oaklawn tends to be a bit deeper, and the colt proved he could handle it. I also like the fact that Smith stalked the pace a bit closer in this outing which I believe made all the difference here. SchoolofhardrocksThe Santa Anita course is not as deep and lends a lot of favor to speed horses. In regards to California Chrome that could be an issue, but I believe Hoppertunity will catch a better speed figure here and has a chance to upset the favorite given a good stalking trip and hopefully someone to contend with California Chrome for the front-end lead. For a longshot play, I’m going to go with Schoolofhardrocks at 10 to 1 on the morning line. He’s only been out twice, winning his debut race by 1 1 ½ lengths and then finishing a flat 4th in the San Felipe, 15 lengths out of it. Despite that race, Schoolofhardrocks has been training well and I look for him to have a much better performance in this event. Good luck everybody!

 

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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