Santa Anita Derby 2020 cheat sheet

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Whereas this Saturday, June 6, previously would have signaled the end of the 2020 Triple Crown season with the Belmont Stakes in New York, now attention shifts to the other side of the country, where the 83rd Runhappy Santa Anita Derby will be held. The $400,000, Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park is normally the last West Coast prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, and is held in early April.

Watch the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, June 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Before the Santa Anita Derby, watch a special presentation of American Pharoah’s historic 2015 Belmont Stakes win from 4-6 p.m. on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

This year, it’s the final prep before the new first leg of the Triple Crown … which for the first time in the series’ history is the aforementioned Belmont Stakes (the race sequence was informally called “the Triple Crown” starting in the late 1920s and formally recognized with a trophy created in 1950). As I said, it’s a year we’ll always remember.

The Santa Anita Derby has a storied history as a Kentucky Derby prep, and it still offers valuable qualifying points to Derby 146, which will now be run on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs. The top four finishers earn points on a 100-40-20-10 scale, and in prior years running second in the Santa Anita Derby was usually good enough to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. That might not be the case this year, as several additional preps have been added to the Road to Kentucky Derby series this summer, including the Belmont Stakes.

Eighteen Kentucky Derby winners have come out of the Santa Anita Derby through the years, including 10 horses that won both races, most recently 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. Learn more about the Santa Anita Derby’s history here.

Interestingly, in this unprecedented year the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby will be held at the same distance as the shortened Belmont Stakes on June 20. A field of seven horses is entered, led by the 1-2 finishers in the March 7 San Felipe Stakes, Authentic and Honor A. P. The race will be televised on TVG’s “Trackside Live,” which is broadcast on its home network and also simulcast on NBCSN.

Bet the Santa Anita Derby with 1/ST BET and get a $10 Instant Credit + Up to a $500 Bonus when you sign up with promo code 500ABR. When you handicap, bet and watch the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on 1/ST BET, be sure to take advantage of a Money-Back Guarantee. Bet your horse to win and get your cash back, up to $10, if you finish 2nd or 3rd. That way, no matter if you like Authentic, Honor A. P. or someone else, your best bet on the race is at 1/ST BET.

Read on for information on all of the Santa Anita Derby contenders, presented in post-position order.


1. Friar’s Road

Jockey: Giovanni Franco

Trainer: Mike McCarthy

Owners: Mr. and Mrs. William Warren

Career record: 3 starts – 0 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $24,000

Earnings per start: $8,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Quality Road – My Sugar Bear, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Still a maiden, Friar’s Road has shown some encouraging potential through his three career starts but will be up against it in the Santa Anita Derby facing a number of horses who have either won or ran very well in stakes. He enters off of a runner-up finish behind Hunt the Front in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight race on May 2 at Oaklawn Park, where he encountered some traffic trouble moving into the stretch but still rallied to finish one length short. One race prior, at Santa Anita, he finished second to Santa Anita Derby foe Shooters Shoot, defeated by 3 ¼ lengths, in a one-mile race. He’s bred to go long as a son of good, young sire Quality Road and from a female family that includes a Stephen Foster Handicap winner. Still, there’s not a lot of early speed lined up in the Santa Anita Derby to set up his late run and, as noted above, he concedes a lot of experience and class to several of his opponents. He will probably go off at the highest odds in the field when the gates open Saturday, and passing a few horses in deep stretch to nab third or fourth appears to be his ceiling.


2. Rushie

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Mike McCarthy

Owners: Jim and Donna Daniell

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $81,351

Earnings per start: $20,338

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Liam’s Map – Conquest Angel, by Colonel John

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Another Mike McCarthy trainee, Rushie enters the Santa Anita Derby on an upswing, winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park on the May 2 Arkansas Derby undercard by 1 ¼ lengths against a tough field (Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes runner-up Candy Tycoon finished second). This California-based runner has had a solid 3-year-old season so far, but he’s flown under the radar, overshadowed by the Bob Baffert brigade and Honor A. P. He won his first 2020 start in a one-mile maiden race at Santa Anita by a length and then finished a distant second to Charlatan in an allowance-optional claiming race at the same track and distance, but he came back strong from that learning experience to win at Oaklawn. Overall, this son of Liam’s Map profiles as a good longshot choice to use in exotics with Authentic and Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby. Jockey Flavien Prat finished third in last year’s Santa Anita Derby aboard Instagrand.


3. Shooters Shoot

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Trainer: Peter Eurton

Owners: ERJ Racing, Exline-Border Racing, and Dan Hudock

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $94,880

Earnings per start: $15,813

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Competitive Edge – Repeat, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Shooters Shoot enters the Santa Anita Derby off of a courageous neck win over Blackberry Wine in a one-mile allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park on April 11. That was his first start outside of his California base for trainer Peter Eurton, where he showed gradual improvement in three previous starts during his 3-year-old season. Three starts back, this son of Competitive Edge finished second to Charlatan in that colt’s Santa Anita debut on Feb. 16. He was no match in the stretch, but he kept on well enough to finish 7 ¼ lengths clear of the third-place horse. Shooters Shoot was set to face Charlatan again in the first division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2, but was scratched and now competes for Derby points against two other Bob Baffert trainees, including Authentic. This son of sprinter/miler Competitive Edge projects to be the main pace threat to Authentic in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby and will need to elevate his game considerably to outrun that speedy foe while simultaneously holding off talented closer Honor A. P. and improving Rushie.


4. Anneau d’Or

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Trainer: Blaine Wright

Owner: Peter Redekop B. C. Ltd.

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $418,000

Earnings per start: $83,600

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Kentucky Derby points: 12

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Walk Close, by Tapit

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt showed much promise in his 2-year-old campaign, nearly winning the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Los Alamitos Futurity, but has regressed in his two starts at age 3, defeated by a combined margin of 22 ¼ lengths in the second division of the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and the first division of the Arkansas Derby. He now returns to Santa Anita, where he finished a head behind Storm the Court in the Juvenile and earned his career-best Equibase Speed Figure. Still, the form of that race has not carried over into 2020, and this well-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro is in dire need of a breakout performance to put him back into contention for the Kentucky Derby or any other marquee race for 3-year-olds. Anneau d’Or must break well and get in good stalking position to have any chance at upsetting Authentic or Honor A. P., and given his current form a third-place finish and 20 Derby points would appear to be his ceiling against a small, but competitive field. Hall of Fame rider Victor Espionza has won three Santa Anita Derbys, with Midnight Interlude (2011), subsequent Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome (2014), and Gormley (2017).


5. Azul Coast

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $104,000

Earnings per start: $34,667

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Kentucky Derby points: 14

Pedigree: Super Saver – Sky Measure, by Sky Mesa

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Definitely the less-heralded of Bob Baffert’s two Santa Anita Derby starters, Azul Coast makes his first appearance since an impressive score in the 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 15 at Golden Gate Fields, where he rallied through the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths on that track’s synthetic Tapeta Footings surface. Prior to that, he checked in 7 ¾ lengths behind Authentic in the one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, his first start at age 3 after winning his career debut in a one-mile race at Los Alamitos in December 2019. This son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver will obviously need to improve considerably in terms of speed figures to best his stablemate and Honor A. P. on Saturday, but it’s encouraging that all of his starts have been in two-turn races and that he has rallied late in each one of them. He’s a logical choice to fill out the Santa Anita Derby trifecta at the very least, and if he steps up his game off of the nearly four-month layoff he could do even better, although the lack of a projected strong early pace will be an obstacle.


6. Honor A. P.

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $122,200

Earnings per start: $40,733

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Kentucky Derby points: 20

Pedigree: Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Honor A. P. has kept his status among the top Kentucky Derby contenders all spring despite the fact that he’s just a maiden winner. The Santa Anita Derby sets up as a major step in his development as he meets Authentic for the second time after finishing 2 ¼ lengths behind him in the March 7 San Felipe Stakes, the last time both colts raced. In the San Felipe, Honor A. P. raced a couple of lengths off of Authentic’s uncontested pace through the backstretch and made a mild rally in the stretch without cutting into Authentic’s margin. He’ll have to do better than that on Saturday, but this is a colt who should relish longer distances as a son of Honor Code from the A.P. Indy sire line and out of a dam (mother) who was a Grade 1 winner at 1 1/8 miles. He’s also got connections with winning experience in this race: John Shirreffs has two Santa Anita Derby wins (Tiago in 2007 and Gormley in 2017) and Hall of Famer Mike Smith has three (Tiago, Justify in 2018, and Roadster last year). Look for Smith to keep his mount a bit closer to Authentic in a Santa Anita Derby that drew a small field without a lot of early speed. For better or worse, we’ll know a lot more about this buzz horse’s path to the Kentucky Derby and points beyond after the weekend.


7. Authentic

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Fred Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables

Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $331,200

Earnings per start: $110,400

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Kentucky Derby points: 60

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Over the past couple of months, Authentic saw his status as the top colt in Bob Baffert’s loaded stable of 3-year-olds slip while first Nadal, and then Charlatan, developed into graded stakes winners – a textbook case of “what have you done for me lately?” Now, this undefeated son of top sire Into Mischief will have the opportunity to move back up the rankings with a strong showing in the Santa Anita Derby coupled with Nadal’s unfortunate retirement. He hasn’t been seriously challenged through three starts, including his two route wins this year in the Sham Stakes and San Felipe Stakes, setting an uncontested pace in both and drawing clear late. Furthermore, he showed more maturity in the San Felipe, being kept to task by regular rider Drayden Van Dyke after he raced erratically during his stretch run in the Sham. His workouts leading up to this race have been solid and outside of possibly Shooters Shoot, he shouldn’t have much company on the front end if Van Dyke sends him out early from the outside post to set the pace. Honor A. P. did keep on well to get second in the San Felipe, and that colt certainly is eligible to improve on Saturday … but so is Authentic. Bob Baffert has a record nine wins in the Santa Anita Derby: Cavonnier (1996), Indian Charlie (1998), General Challenge (1999), Point Given (2001), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Midnight Interlude (2011), Dortmund (2015), Justify (2018), and Roadster (2019).

Watch the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, June 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Before the Santa Anita Derby, watch a special presentation of American Pharoah’s historic 2015 Belmont Stakes win from 4-6 p.m. on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.