The Santa Anita Derby takes place on Saturday and can be seen on NBCSN, but the focus may be more on the overall situation at the track than on the horses. The situation at Santa Anita is dire, as 23 horses have died at the track since late December. If there is another death on Saturday the pressure on the track to close would be immense. Let’s look at Saturday’s race and hope that everything goes smoothly.
Santa Anita Derby Odds and Post Position
1 Roadster 5-2
2 More Ice 30-1
3 Nolo Contesto 6-1
4 Synthesis 30-1
5 Instagrand 3-1
6 Game Winner 4-5
It is a short field of six going to post on Saturday afternoon, with Game Winner listed as the odds-on favorite. Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race eight times and he had Triple Crown winner Justify winning this race a year ago. This time around he has the top two betting choices in Game Winner and Roadster. The Santa Anita Derby has produced 17 Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners, so the winner of Saturday’s race will get instant respect in terms of Kentucky Derby odds at BookMaker.
Game Winner won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he came up short in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park last month. It was the first defeat for the horse, but he finished a close second to Omaha Beach. The only previous start for Game Winner at Santa Anita was an easy win in the American Pharoah Stakes last September.
Trainer Bob Baffert said the horse is tough and will be right there on Saturday. "Well, I think the thing about him (is) he's tough, he's gritty. He showed that in his last race," Baffert said to the media, "He had every chance when he was behind there to not finish like he did. He tries hard. And he gives it his all. He shows up every time, and that's all you can ask for in a horse—just shows up. He's going to try hard. And that's what you need. Coming to the Derby, you want a horse that's resilient."
Roadster was beaten by Game winner in the Del Mar Futurity last September, but the horse did go off as the favorite in that race. He has been training really well and he gets Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the irons. "His comeback race was just off the chart, I was so happy with it," Baffert said to the media, "Mike Smith is really happy with him. And he's come into this race really well. He's been working well. He looks healthy. He's fresh. … I expect him to run a big race."
Instagrand won his first two starts easily, but they were both sprints. The horse wasn’t as good, finishing third in the Gotham Stakes last month. The horse has trained well and he will get Drayden Van Dyke back in the irons for this start.
Nolo Contesto is trained by John Sadler and he was beaten by 2.5 lengths last month. This will be the first stakes start for the horse and he may be in over his head against the top three.
I usually like to list live longshots in a race, but this time I don’t see any. More Ice is 30-1 and I just can’t see the horse contending here. He looks to be in here just as a horse to make it so the field has six horses. Synthesis is not much better, but at least he does have a win in his career.
Santa Anita Derby Picks
I think Game Winner is a really good horse but you have to ask yourself if Baffert really wants the horse to win this race. Game Winner is already in the Derby, while Roadster needs this win. I think Roadster is primed for a big effort and I don’t think Baffert really cares if Game Winner wins this race or not. I will take Roadster as my top choice on Saturday.
Check out the latest horse racing odds at BookMaker.eu.