California Chrome, the runaway winner of the G2-San Felipe Stakes on March 8th, faces Rebel winner Hoppertunity and Robert B. Lewis winner Candy Boy in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park (post time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern; TV: NBCSN). A winner of three straight races, all by a minimum of 5 1/2 lengths, California Chrome locked up a spot in the 2014 Kentucky Derby after securing the 50 points available to the winner of the San Felipe. California Chrome is the 6/5 morning line favorite. Hoppertunity's 55 points also put him squarely in the field for this year's Derby. Candy Boy, however, has some work to do.
Candy Boy, currently tied for 30th on the 2014 Kentucky Derby standings, can't afford to run worse than second if his connections want to feel comfortable about his chances of landing in the Derby starting gate. A third place finish, worth 20 points, probably vaults him into the Top 20, but it would likely be a precarious position given the amount of points at stake in the Wood Memorial, Arkansas Derby, and Blue Grass Stakes.
Joining the top three choices on the morning line are:
- Rprettyboyfloyd: A non-winner in five lifetime starts.
- Friendswith K Mill: Broke his maiden at a tag of $75k on the lawn but finished second against allowance company in his first try on dirt.
- Big Tire: Broke his maiden last time out on March 7th in his sixth attempt.
- Schoolofhardrocks: Fifth, beaten 15 lengths in the San Felipe.
- Dublin Up: (Not a son of Dublin)... another maiden; he's unfeated in four lifetime starts.
The connections of Candy Boy have to be feeling pretty good given the fact that the field contains two maidens and three other colts that look like they need to make a major leap forward in order to contend with this group. At a minimum, you'd like Candy Boy's chances to pick up those precious 20 points but, as is the case in horse racing, you never know what strange results await.
California Chrome, if he churns out another race like his domination in the San Felipe, looks awfully tough on paper. He's won from on the lead and just off the pace, and has clearly taken that "next step" this winter/spring after a juvenile campaign that was primarily "so-so". Those 6/5 morning line odds probably won't last too long as it won't be a surprise to see him at under even money by post time.
It seems crazy to write this about a race at Santa Anita, but there doesn't appear to be much in the way of pure speed in this Santa Anita Derby field. In fact, if Victor Espinoza and California Chrome want the lead, they probably can take it from Dublin Up. If the favorite is able to grab the lead and control the pace like he did in the San Felipe, this race will likely be over before the field hits the top of the stretch.
Below are the entries, post positions and morning line odds for the 2014 Santa Anita Derby:
|1||Rprettyboyfloyd||R. Bejarano||D. Breuer||20/1|
|2||Friendswith K Mill||T. Baze||D. O'Neill||20/1|
|3||Hoppertunity||M. Smith||B. Baffert||3/1|
|4||Big Tire||E. Maldanado||M. Glatt||20/1|
|5||California Chrome||V. Espinoza||A. Sherman||6/5|
|6||Candy Boy||G. Stevens||J. Sadler||9/5|
|7||Schoolofhardrocks||J. Talamo||D. Hoffmans||10/1|
|8||Dublin Up||K. Desormeaux||P. Miller||30/1|