Santa Anita Park

The Morning Line: 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Not even the best thoroughbred trainers in the world are guaranteed an entry into the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Such was the case for Bob Baffert in 2013. After War Academy was eased up and did not finish in the Arkansas Derby, the misfortunes for Baffert’s barn continued. At the end of April three Baffert horses had qualified for the Derby, yet their status was still uncertain. Then on the Sunday before the Run for the Roses, Power Broker was ruled out. On the next day a final decision on Code West and Govenor Charlie was also made.

For the first time since 2008, there would be no horse running in the Kentucky Derby for the legendary trainer. But, that’s just horse racing and the result of a very challenging prep season. However, as with any Hall of Famer you can’t count them out for too long.

This weekend,Bob Baffert features two strong contenders in a Santa Anita Derby prep when Midnight Hawk and Chitu continue their pursuit of qualifying for the 2014 Kentucky Derby in the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, worth a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1).

Click HERE to Continue Reading at The Kentucky Derby Post – Horse Racing Nation


The Morning Line: Sham Stakes

Secret Circle, Sham Stakes 4-5 Favorite

Santa Anita kicks off the 2012 Kentucky Derby preps with the Grade 3 Sham Stakes this afternoon.  It is the third race in today’s 9 race card with the post time listed at 1:32 local time.  After winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint as the 2-5 favorite, Secret Circle returns to Santa Anita where he won the Jack Goodman stakes last October.  Although this will be his first career race at a distance of 1 mile, Secret Circle is still the 4-5 favorite on the Morning Line.

Standing in his way is a field of 5 other horses.  Here is the line-up for the 2012 Sham Stakes.   (more…)

Saddle Up – Trail to the Derby Begins with the Sham Stakes

Secret Circle wins the BC Juvenile Sprint

Welcome to the New Year.  The trail to the 138th Kentucky Derby has begun at the The Derby Post and we commence with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. 

Inaugurated in 2001, this official G3 Derby Prep is named in honor of one of the greatest 3 year olds to never win a Triple Crown race.  After his triumphant victory in the 1973 Santa Anita Stakes, Sham moved on to the Kentucky Derby where he met a challenge that no other horse would choose; Secretariat.  Because of his gutsy 2nd place finishes to Big Red in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Sham will quite possibly be remembered as: The Greatest Second Best. Although their rivalry was one-sided, Sham still holds one of the top 4 fastest times in Kentucky Derby history (Behind Secretariat, Monarchos, and Northern Dancer). 

 And that race fans is a horse worth naming a Derby Prep after.  Riders up, let’s hit the road to the 138th Kentucky Derby. 


Race Recap: Baffert Shines Again at Santa Anita Derby

Midnight Interlude Gets the Final Jump

Rounding out a wild day of Kentucky Derby Preps, California wasn’t to be excluded on upset Saturday.  Bob Baffert went deep into his barn for the Santa Anita Derby and came out with an unexpected winner, Midnight Interlude (Replay).  Along with Illinois Derby winner Joe Vann, the colt became the 2nd horse on the day to win in their first trip at graded stakes immediately following a maiden win. 

It was a roller coaster weekend for Bob Baffert that once it ended had to have felt like a pretty good ride.  A game time decision was made on Friday when Jaycito was scratched due to a right front foot bruise that didn’t heal as quickly as originally expected.  With the thought of winning looking bleak, Baffert later confirmed his surprise when watching  his untested colt put the finishing touches on a 14-1 upset win.  The win made it Baffert’s sixth all time and his second in the last 3 yrs. (PioneeroftheNile ’09)

Ridden by Victor Espinoza for the first time, the colt came into Saturday’s feature very lightly raced.  It’s not always common for a colt to sit out as a 2 yr old and begin their racing career at age 3 but it happens and generally for good reason.  Midnight Interlude got underway in January 2011 competing in a MSW at Santa Anita.  The third time proved to be the charm when on March 20th Midnight Interlude broke his maiden.  His performance that day must have really shown Baffert something, as he moved him straight from Maiden racing to Grade I Stakes.  His hunch proved to be a good one.

Setting the pace in front was 2010 Grade I Stakes winner Comma to the Top with healthy fractions of :22.81, :47.33, and 1:11.53.  Holding off the betting favorite, Silver Medallion, at the top of the stretch Jockey Corey Nakatani’s bid for a wire to wire win was beginning to look like the likely outcome.  That was until Victor Espinoza asked of his horse again at the top of the lane.  Coming into the stretch 4 wide, Midnight Interlude continued to press and turned the Santa Anita Derby into an old fashioned stretch duel.  The battle of the pink silks was incredible to watch all the way to the wire where Midnight Interlude got the final jump finishing in 1:48.66. 

Mr Commons rallied gamely along the rail to secure 3rd place over the tiring favorite Silver Medallion who held on for 4th.  Rounding out the field of nine in order of finish was Anthony’s Cross, Indian Winter, Bench Points, Quail Hill, and Offlee Wild Boys.

6 Midnight Interlude $29.80 $12.00 $6.00                                                                                    5 Comma to the Top Corey $9.20 $5.80                                                                                         3 Mr. Commons $3.60

$2.00 Exacta(6-5) $227.20 – $2.00 Trifecta(6-5-3) $1229.60

The race was Comma to the Top’s most competitive bid at a distance over a 1 1/16 Mile.  Even though it was a gutsy performance, it appears as though Trainer Peter Miller and the Owners will stick to their original plan and not move on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.  Mr. Commons showed he’s ready to compete at this level but because this was also his first Graded Stakes race, a 3rd place finish and earnings will leave him out of the field.  No confirmation has been made on Midnight Interlude’s next steps but the derby is still a possibility.  Jaycito still looks pointed towards running for the roses and is likely for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes on 4/23.

Congratulations again to Bob Baffert, who with this win also became only the 3rd trainer all time to win both the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap in the same year.  With Game on Dude and Midnight Interlude he becomes the first to do it since Jimmy Jones & Calumet Farms in 1953.   So, ending with a thrilling conclusion to a wild day of Kentucky Derby Preps, that’s a wrap from the West Coast.  We hope you enjoyed the trail from Cali to KY, we’ll look for you again in the Bluegrass State. 

Written  By: Little Brink

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.