In this Friday, May 22, 2020 photo, Bob Baffert, two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer, lowers his bandana during an interview while keeping his distance at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Horse racing returned to the track after being idled for one and a half months because of public health officials’ concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
- Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby is the West Coast’s top Kentucky Derby prep race
- California based horses have won the Run for the Roses four times in the last six years
- Where can you find the best Santa Anita Derby betting value? Read on to find out
During the last nine years trainer Bob Baffert has won the Triple Crown twice and Kentucky Derby three times. Fellow west coast conditioner Doug O’Neill has won the roses twice. Art Sherman led California Chrome to the finish line first in 2014. The Golden State has dominated three-year-old racing recently.
Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby is the top prep race out west for May’s Kentucky Derby. This is the final tune-up for top contenders, and the last opportunity to earn enough qualifying points for dreamers and late-developing horses.
Baffert’s Medina Spirit is the favorite, and he also has Defunded in the field. Let’s look at all the options and predict where a wager is warranted.
2021 Santa Anita Derby Odds
|Rock Your World||+900|
|The Great One||+900|
|Back Ring Luck||+6600|
Odds as of Apr 1 at Bet365
Post time for the Santa Anita Derby is 7:15 pm EST. The mile-and-an-eighth prep should take place under perfect conditions. Southern California is expecting temperatures in the 80’s and clear skies on Saturday. Along with the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby will air on the NBC Sports Network.
With stablemate Life is Good out of consideration for the Run for the Roses, if Medina Spirit runs well in the Santa Anita Derby, you better believe his Kentucky Derby odds will plummet. A win by anyone else would help their chances, but perhaps make the west coast entrants all relative longshots in Louisville.
In four career races Medina Spirit has won twice, and been the runner up on a pair of occasions. Both second-place finishes came against Life is Good, who was on pace to be a huge favorite in the Kentucky Derby before getting injured.
While it was a stakes win against capable competition, Medina Spirit wasn’t overly impressive. That said, the two losses are arguably as good as anyone else’s victories. Add Baffert, and he is justifiably getting lots of support.
Dream Shake is going to get support on Saturday. Like Medina Spirit, he finished far behind Life is Good in last month’s San Felipe Stakes.
That was just Dream Shake’s second career race after debuting with a victory in February. A modest purchase, he certainly has the opportunity to improve with more experience.
Rock Your World debuted with a victory on January 1, and returned to earn a stakes victory at the end of February.
Both races came on the turf. Is he capable and excited to try the dirt, or is it a one-off chance to see whether he can make the Kentucky Derby field?
Baffert’s Defunded is trying stakes company after winning a maiden race on March 6. He won at 9/1 last time out. If it wasn’t for Baffert and the presence of jockey Mike Smith, he wouldn’t be a major player. That said, two Hall of Famers justify attention.
Roman Centurian has run credibly in two stakes races. He was fourth in the San Felipe Stakes and second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. His lone victory came at Santa Anita in a maiden race in January.
2022 FIFA World Cup Odds Tracker
Santa Anita Derby Best Bet
Medina Spirit makes a ton of sense and certainly fits but does he justify being a top favorite? Dream Shake’s resume is actually rather similar to Medina Spirit. Everyone else has huge question marks. While the odds aren’t remarkable, those two are the most likely winners. The better price leads us to Dream Shake.
Pick: Dream Shake
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.