Santa Anita Derby: Contenders & Overview of the Field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Prep Race

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One of Santa Anita’s best cards of the year greets nationwide bettors on Saturday.

The Arcadia, California oval, host of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup in November, unveils a significant Kentucky Derby prep with the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1-8 miles. Post time is approximately 5:43 p.m. ET.

Nationwide bettors can access the action via FanDuel TV and try to leverage a Santa Anita angle not seen at many other tracks: horses running on the local circuit have done well against rivals shipping in.

California-based horses expected to run well here probably will, especially in the two biggest races — the Santa Anita Derby and the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks for fillies.

2023 Santa Anita Derby Field

Here is the field for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby field, including post positions, morning-line odds, jockeys, and trainers.

PPHorseML OddsJockey Trainer
1I Don't Get It20-1Mario GutierrezDoug O’Neill
2Dazzlemesilver50-1Kent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux
3Geaux Rocket Ride3-1Flavien PratRichard Mandella
4One in Vermllion50-1Hector BerriosEric Kruljac
5Practical Move8-5Ramon VazquezTim Yakteen
6National Treasure3-1John VelazquezTim Yakteen
7Skinner4-1Victor EspinozaJohn Shirreffs
8Mandarin Hero8-1Kazushi KimuraTerunobu Fujita
9Low Expectations30-1Umberto RispoliAntonio Garcia

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Saturday’s Santa Anita Park Schedule

Here’s a list of all the major races here on Saturday:

  • Santa Anita Derby: $750,000, 1 1-8 Miles, Dirt
  • Santa Anita Oaks: $400,000, 1 1-6 Miles for Filles, Dirt
  • Monrovia Stakes: $200,000, 6 1-2 furlongs, Turf
  • Charles Whittingham Stakes presented by FanDuel TV: $200,000, 1 1-4 Miles, Turf
  • Echo Eddie Stakes: $150,000, 6 1-2 furlongs, Dirt 
  • Evening Jewel Stakes: $150,000, 6 1-2 furlongs, Dirt

Santa Anita Derby Contenders and Overview

Practical Move put the field away in the San Felipe, ensuring his invitation to the Kentucky Derby. He was much the best in the home stretch. Now must go up to 1 1-8 miles, but so must his competitors. 

Geaux Rocket Ride has run only twice and made a big impression to garner second in the San Felipe. His projected improvement may put him even closer to the win line. 

Skinner endured a wide trip and was moving well in a third-place San Felipe effort. 

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Flavien Prat (here aboard Flightline) rides Geaux Rocket Ride in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

National Treasure was scratched just before the San Felipe. He had been listed as the favorite and thus will take money here. Like many horses, however, his training schedule has been interrupted by the heavy rains that pushed schedules back and canceled some cards. That may impact a horse returning from injury more than one who has been running.

If your inclination is to fade him, you may find other horses valued more because of the betting support National Treasure will generate.

I Don’t Get It tries to make the leap from maiden company into a major stakes victory. He beat Dazzlemesilver, whose connections employ the same strategy of trying to strike off good recent form.

Oneinvermillion and Low Expectations are trying to grab some Derby qualification points. They were expected to do well in the Sunland Derby, but, voila, Wild On Ice took the honors at 35-1. They now ship to Santa Anita but may be over their heads.

Santa Anita Betting Considerations

Until Practical Move loses, I’m playing him on the win line.

Will couple him with Geaux Rocket ride in an exacta box (3-5) and Skinner in a $1 trifecta box (3-5-7).

For another $6, I will key the 5 over the 3-7-6 in a $1 superfecta attempt.

At least one ticket will have the 1 horse, I Don’t Get It, underneath.

Santa Anita Oaks Contenders and Overview

I want to pump the 5, Faiza, who is 4-for-4 in her young career. The question becomes what odds she goes off.

Anything above even money and I will take a pop on the win line and try to make money there.

Otherwise, it’s the 5-3 exacta box (Faiza and Clearly Unhinged), a $1 tri key with the 5 over the 3, 7 (Princess Bettina), and 8(And Tell Me Nolies).

Will try to nab the $1 superfecta for $4 by taking 5,3 with 5,3 with 7,8, with 7,8. That means any combo of the 5 and 3 in the first two spots must be mingled with any combo of the 7 and 8 in the third and fourth spots.

Box these four for $1 and it costs $24, perhaps not worth the investment. But for 4 bucks?  I’m stabbing.

Charles Whittingham Stakes Contenders and Overview

This goes off one race before the Santa Anita Derby and is a treat for fans and bettors as a 1 1–4-mile turf race. Bettors rarely see a 1 1–4-mile event prior to the Kentucky Derby, but this one is for 4-year-olds and that circuit has these types of races.

Most of these horses enter with excellent recent form and have taken turns beating each other.

The competitive nature of this race can give fans goosebumps and bettors the idea that Sudoku is easier.

This is a challenge.

Opry and Masteroffoxhounds stage a rematch of their thrilling $200,000 San Marcos Stakes battle in February. Masteroffoxhounds was second, just ahead of Opry, who ran a big race at 12-1.

They should both run well again.

Dicey Mo Chara had beaten Masteroffoxhounds at a shorter distance but did not handle 1 1-4 well. Backers of this horse believe he will do better with the experience gained off that race.

Offlee Naughty has an interesting journey. Dicey Mo Chara beat him in allowance company last spring. But he then waged a strong campaign at prevailed at 1 1-4 miles on the synthetic at Turfway Park in December.

First race this year. Connections probably refreshed him and may use this race as sort of a spring training effort to get the year started. Nonetheless, he’s right with this group and should be a price.

Midnight Jostar hasn’t won in stakes company but notched an eye-popping allowance victory at 1:59.09 in his last race. That would win this one. Can he repeat that effort against better competition?

Gold Phoenix surged from the back of the pack to steal the Frank Kilroe Mile at 10-1 in early March. He topped Masteroffoxhounds to do it.

Charles Whittingham Stakes Betting Considerations

Take one pop on a winner and maybe a couple of exotics. These horses are all capable of beating each other.

I will take one small stab on Midnight Jostar to win, with Gold Phoenix and Opry in exacta and trifecta combos with him (a 1-3-7 tri box).

Can’t bet it big, but this is a race to be enjoyed.

Good luck!

Also read: Santa Anita Derby odds and picks

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Writer
Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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