Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) features a rematch between the top three finishers in the March 7 San Felipe (G2), including race winner Dortmund (Big Brown), who was made the 3-5 morning line favorite to remain undefeated going into next month’s Kentucky Derby (G1).
Currently pegged as no worse than second choice in the Run for the Roses, rated above or slightly behind champion stablemate American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), Dortmund has carved out an impressive resume winning all five starts to date. The massive Bob Baffert-trained chestnut, who displayed stalk-and-pounce tendencies at two, has shown tactical versatility at Santa Anita this winter winning the San Felipe, and the Robert B. Lewis (G3) before that, racing on or near the lead.
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While forced to courageously re-rally in the Lewis, Dortmund had a relatively easier time in the San Felipe, taking the lead from the start and leaving plenty in the tank to safely repel a late charge from Prospect Park (Tapit) to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
The San Felipe was the stakes debut for Prospect Park, who was exiting back-to-back wins going a route. Following a photo-finish maiden win going 1 1/16 miles in late December, the Clifford Sise trainee romped by more than five lengths against allowance foes at the end of January.
Bolo (Temple City) was third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Dortmund, in the San Felipe while making his dirt debut. Bolo had won two of three starts on grass prior to that, including the $75,000 Eddie Logan. Mike Smith regains the mount on Bolo after riding also-ran Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense) in the San Felipe.
Baffert has a second rooting interest in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby in One Lucky Dane (Lookin at Lucky), who has dominated maiden and allowance foes over the track. Exiting a 9 3/4-length allowance win March 19, the bay was sixth in his only prior stakes appearance in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Completing the field are Cross the Line (Line of David), the California Derby winner and El Camino Real Derby (G3) runner-up, and Bad Read Sanchez (Warrior’s Reward), who has not raced since finishing third in the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar last August.
The winner of the Santa Anita Derby will receive 100 qualifying points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Among the supporting features on Saturday is the $150,000 Providencia (G3), a nine-furlong turf race for three-year-old fillies. Former European mainstays Prize Exhibit (Showcasing), Spirit of Xian (Kodiac), and Havana Belle (Teofilo) are likely to have significant backing, as might recent maiden scorers Entrechat (Giant’s Causeway) and Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule).
Looking for more stakes glory are Ol’ Fashion Gal (Sky Mesa), who took the Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar in November, and Lutine Belle (Bellamy Road), who landed the one-mile Blue Norther on New Year’s Day.
A high-quality renewal of the $75,000 Thunder Road for older horses features Winning Prize (Pure Prize), who seeks to reverse a streak of three unplaced efforts since his victory in the 2014 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1). Also in the lineup is Grade 3 winner Quick Casablanca (Until Sundown), who makes his first start since a runner-up finish in the San Juan Capistrano (G2) last June.
Drawn outside in the one-mile grass test are Ganesh (Sulamani), a Group 1 winner in Argentina when last seen in September, and the Grade 2-winning mare Moulin de Mougin (Curlin). Stuck on the also-eligible list is Gabriel Charles (Street Hero), who captured a division of the 2013 Del Mar Derby (G2) but has been sidelined since running second in that season’s Twilight Derby (G2).