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Santa Anita >> Saturday, April 7 $750,000 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby >> Preview

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Posted Friday, April 06, 2012 10:26 AM   0 comments
Santa Anita >> Saturday, April 7
$750,000 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby >> Preview By Full Card Reports
(Post Time: 5:30 p.m. ET) Generally regarded as a weak Kentucky Derby prep race in 2011, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby has produced a field of 10 in 2012 that could be regarded as highly as any we will see leading up to the Run for the Roses. The 9 furlong race has a purse of $750k.


CREATIVE CAUSE (6-5 ML) has been tabbed as the favorite. The Mike Harrington trainee will break from the rail under Joel Rosario for trainer Mike Harrington. He was last seen blasting off to victory in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes after hitting the top of the stretch five wide. The son of Giant’s Causeway beat the highly regarded Bodemeister by ¾ of a length. The colt has had a bit of a problem with wandering around in the stretch and his blinkers have been removed in an attempt to remedy the problem.

LIASON (8-1 ML) was all the rage after his win the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity last year. Trained by Bob Baffert, he started his sophomore campaign in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a race where he clipped heels and lost jockey Rafael Bejarano. After that, he produced a dull effort to be fourth in the San Felipe Stakes. The connections believe the extra ground that the Santa Anita Derby offers will help improve his chances. Although he is by Indian Charlie, he has Victory Gallop as his broodmare sire and that means he should have a chance at lasting in longer races.

HOLY CANDY (8-1 ML) lost his first three races, but faced top notch stakes horses in each event. In his fourth try he surged clear late to break his maiden by 3 ½ lengths. He sat behind slow fractions and only really ran in the latter part of the race. Trainer John Sadler thinks he is getting good at the right time. Alonso Quinonez gets the call to ride as Joel Rosario decided to stay with the favored Creative Cause.

I’LL HAVE ANOTHER (5-2 ML) shocked bettors last out with a 43-1 victory in the Robert Lewis Stakes. The win came after several months away from the track. Bred to like longer distances, he might only be getting started. Running well in this spot is of paramount importance, as he doesn’t have the earnings necessary to make the Kentucky Derby at this point. Doug O’Neill trains and Mario Gutierrez keeps the mount.

Zayat Stables has a couple of Kentucky Derby chances, but PAYNTER (12-1 ML) could be the best of the bunch. He has raced only once, sending home three other horses in a 5 ½ furlong maiden race. The win was especially impressive when you consider that the son of Awesome Again is bred to appreciate route races. His works indicate he is ready to fire a big shot and he has been the talk of the Santa Anita backside. Despite that, asking him to go from a 5 ½ furlong maiden race to a 9 furlong Grade 1 is no small task. Bob Baffert trains and his top jockey Martin Garcia keeps the mount.

MIDNIGHT TRANSFER (10-1 ML) made a menacing move in the stretch of the San Felipe, but couldn’t stay with the top two while checking in third. All in all, the son of Hard Spun ran well considering it was his first time racing at two turns. The pedigree shows tons of stamina so we can expect him to love the conditions of the Santa Anita Derby. Mike Smith picks up the mount from the injured Victor Espinoza. Carla Gaines conditions this chestnut colt.

BROTHER FRANCIS (20-1 ML) is an impressive maiden son of Kentucky Derby runner up Lion Heart. He finished up fast to be third in the CashCall Futurity as a juvenile and in his only race as a three-year-old he ended up third by a head in a turf maiden going a flat mile. Garrett Gomez gets the mount from trainer James Cassidy.

LONGVIEW DRIVE (12-1 ML), SENOR RAIN (15-1 ML) and BLUESKIESNRAINBOWS (20-1 ML) round out the field.


John J. Moore

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