Tipsheet: 2022 Santa Anita Derby

April 7th, 2022

A compact, but especially talented, field of six sophomores will contest the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile test will give out a total of 170 qualifying points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers in the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event.

Santa Anita Derby Picks

  • #3 Forbidden Kingdom
  • #4 Messier
  • #6 Taiba
  • #2 Armagnac

Santa Anita Derby Wagers

  • $30 superfecta 3-4-6-2 ($30)
  • $2 superfecta 3 with 4, 6 with 2, 4, 6 with all ($24)

Santa Anita Derby Contenders

#1 HAPPY JACK has been outrun in two graded stakes races at the meeting and adds blinkers for this engagement. The Oxbow colt gets a good draw inside to save early ground, but the three-year-old will need a major step forward to vie for the upset in this offering. Abel Cedillo retains the ride.

#2 ARMAGNAC was through early in the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) last time out but fired a rapid six-furlong bullet in his latest morning work. The Tim Yakteen trainee is bred to run all day, and the Quality Road colt could garner a piece if one of the favorites fails to show up. Drayden Van Dyke will be in the silks.

#3 FORBIDDEN KINGDOM dominated the San Felipe S. (G2) last time out and rates as both the one to beat and catch on Saturday. The Richard Mandella-trained son of American Pharoah has blazing early foot and proved last time that he can carry it a route of ground, but he will face a stiffer assignment in this spot. Regular pilot Juan Hernandez will guide the fantastic chestnut.

#4 MESSIER had a fine two-year-old season, but he seems to have taken the next step following a 15-length tour-de-force in the Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) most recently. By Empire Maker, the well-bred colt has trained well in the interim over a surface where he has won his two lifetime races by a combined 21 1/4 lengths. The imposing bay has improved his Brisnet Speed figure in each career effort and is a must use under Johnnie V.

#5 WIN THE DAY impressed with a going-away win in his initial try on the dirt, but the gelded son of Midshipman will have to get a lot faster before being backed against these superb foes for Doug Oโ€™Neill.

#6 TAIBA cost $1.7 million as a two-year-old in training and ran like a superstar in his debut, drawing off with ease while finishing fast in a maiden dash. The chestnut colt will make a near-impossible class hike from maidens to Grade 1 foes, while also stretching out from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, but the son of Gun Runner can still impact this race in my opinion. Mike Smith riding adds to the intrigue.

Meet the Contenders for the 2022 Santa Anita Derby

Download the full betting guide for a 5-star rating of each horse's winning potential.

    • Pro: San Felipe (G2) try was better than his Robert B. Lewis (G3); blinkers might help.
    • Con: Stakes attempts suggest heโ€™s several cuts below these.
    • Pro: Didnโ€™t show up at all in San Felipe; better likely on the way.
    • Con: Like most of these, probably running for a minor share.
    • Pro: Scorched rivals in last two and might be too tough to catch if let go.
    • Con: Easily handled by Messier in last meeting; might be miler at heart.
    • Pro: Robert B. Lewis score was sublime; 104 Brisnet Speed rating best in field.
    • Con: Threw in a clunker two back at short odds; main rival better now.
    • Pro: Cruised in dirt debut going a mile; plenty of stamina in pedigree.
    • Con: Needs all the top players to run below par, which is a lot to ask and hope for.
    • Pro: Gun Runner colt impressive in debut; ceiling remains high.
    • Con: Three-furlong stretch-out substantial facing seasoned opponents.