Meet the Contenders: 2023 Santa Anita Derby

April 6th, 2023

Meet the horses running in the 2023 Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well in the Santa Anita Derby field.

#1 I DON’T GET IT **

Pro: First trouble-free trip resulted in a decent maiden win; has room to improve.

Con: Substantial class hike from maiden ranks to toughest race of the meet for three-year-olds.


Pro: By Belmont Stakes (G1)-winning sire, so extra distance should suit.

Con: Two-start maiden hard to endorse; barn having tough meet, too.


Pro: Strong effort in San Felipe (G2) off one lifetime start going short.

Con: Still relatively inexperienced and staying power will be tested here.


One In Vermillion wins the Riley Allison Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

Pro: Nerves got to him pre-race in Sunland Park Derby (G3); capable of better.

Con: Best unlikely to be good enough shipping to this tougher circuit.


Practical Move winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) at Los Alamitos (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Pro: San Felipe victory was excellent and one of the fastest preps this year.

Con: Received ideal trip in signature win and regression not an impossibility.


National Treasure gallop at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)

Pro: Hung tough with best of the division at two, and Sham (G3) try was on par.

Con: Returning from minor foot issue and hasn’t been out in three months.

#7 SKINNER ***

Pro: Noticeable improvement shown this year; San Felipe third a good first try vs. winners.

Con: Lacks any sort of positional speed and thus will be at the mercy of the pace.


Mandarin Hero wins the Haiseiko Kinen at Ohi Racecourse, Japan, Nov. 16, 2022 (Photo by Tomoya Moriuchi/

Pro: Win-friendly colt invades from Japan, whose stock has been doing well worldwide of late.

Con: Don’t really know how well that overseas form stacks up against best in California.


Pro: Perfect in two starts over this main track, albeit against far lesser.

Con: Exits loss in Sunland Park Derby, one of the slower preps of the season.