The Morning Line: Santa Anita Derby

The derby trail is set to leave its final tracks on the west coast with this weekend’s most important stepping stone from California to Kentucky, the Santa Anita Derby.  However, those tracks won’t include any from a couple of the key contenders.  The late breaking news this week after the field was already set is that Premier Pegasus and Jaycito, this year’s 1-2 Finishers in last month’s San Felipe Stakes, are both out due to injury.

The more serious of the two injuries is with Premier Pegasus, as he has been withdrawn due to a more substantial injury.  While initial reports weren’t disclosing the extent of the injury, it has recently been confirmed that a hairline fracture in the cannon bone on the left was discovered.  The injury is expected to keep the colt sidelined for up to 3 months minimum, thus eliminating him from the Kentucky Derby.  In regards to Jaycito, Bob Baffert is trusting his gut and electing not to run the colt even though he was cleared by the Vet to compete.  Though it’s not yet confirmed, expect Jaycito to be scratched due to a bruise on the right front foot.  Anticipate Baffert to give the foot a few more weeks to heal completely before moving him to Kentucky and the Lexington Stakes on 4/23, keeping the derby dreams alive.

As often seen in sports, its tough when top contenders are sidelined prior to the biggest event of their early career.  Though we expect to see Jaycito back in action soon, we wish him a speedy recovery.  As for Premier Pegasus, who showed off his talents in last months San Felipe stakes, I’m sure that after time off and proper healing this horse is still capable of a successful career.  We wish Premier Pegasus, and Trainer, Owner and Breeder Cho Myung Kwon a healthy recovery and continued success down the road.

While the race has lost its top contenders there is still plenty of talent that can leave California for Kentucky while carrying a lot of potential with them.  Overall, the race has produced a total of 6 Kentucky Derby winners with the most recent being Giacomo in 2005.  There is no doubt about it, the Santa Anita Derby is as strong a race as any other prep and the 2011 edition is not any different.  Expect the new Morning Line Favorite to be Silver Medallion, followed closely by Anthony’s Cross and Comma to the Top.

$1 Million Santa Anita Derby (GI, Race 10, 4:37 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Offlee Wild Boys (CA), J Talamo, S Miyadi                                 30-1
2. Indian Winter (KY), P A Valenzuela, J Hollendorfer                 10-1
3. Mr. Commons (KY), M E Smith, J A Shirreffs                            8-1
4. Silver Medallion (KY), G K Gomez, S M Asmussen                   7-2
5. Comma to the Top (FL), C S Nakatani, P Miller                         5-1
6. Midnight Interlude (KY), V Espinoza, B Baffert                         20-1
7. Quail Hill (KY), M A Pedroza, D E Hofmans                                30-1
8. Premier Pegasus (KY), A Quinonez, M K Cho                       SCRATCHED
9. Anthony’s Cross (PA), J Rosario, E G Harty                                4-1
10. Bench Points (CA), R Bejarano, T Yakteen                               10-1
11. Jaycito (KY), M Garcia, B Baffert                                          SCRATCHED
All carry 122 pounds. – Blinkers On: Quail Hill

Silver Medallion, with Garrett Gomez in the irons and Trainer Steve Asmussen, the colt will likely take over as the betting favorite.  This will only be his 2nd start of 2011 after a win in the El Camino Real on 2/12.  Be careful considering this horse to be a synthetic surface colt that can’t win on the new traditional dirt surface at SA.  Though he’s never raced on dirt and only won on the Santa Anita Turf  and the synthetics at Golden Gate Fields, he’s been working over the Santa Anita Dirt since February.  This may have given him enough time to develop a feel for the track and given him the comfort level he needs to win.

I’m looking at Anthony’s Cross as the horse to beat tomorrow afternoon.  Making his 3rd start of the year, this colt looks to follow-up a 3rd Place finish in the Sham and a Win in the Robert B. Lewis with another solid performance over the Santa Anita Dirt.  I expected this horse to give Premier Pegasus and Jaycito a handful of trouble prior to their injuries so without them running I only see good things to come.  His last time racing at the same distance of 1 1/8 he settled in 2nd for the majority of the race before making his move and passing the leader in the stretch.  While the pace is sure to be quicker I expect jockey Joel Rosario to position him for another challenge at the top of the stretch and again take the leaders down before the wire.

Picks: Anthony’s Cross;  Top 3:  Anthony’s Cross, Silver Medallion, Mr. Commons

Good luck to all connections and again best wishes to Premier Pegasus, Jaycito and their connections.

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2 comments

  1. Pre Peg is unfortunate but I thought Jaycito was ready for a huge run…like Silver Medallion and have Bench Points as my longshot

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