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Chrome, Candy and Hoppertunity Knocking at the Santa Anita Derby Door

2014 Santa Anita Derby (GI); Chrome, Candy and Hoppertunity Knocking At The Door: Inaugurated in 1935, the Santa Anita Derby is considered the most important West Coast prep-race to the Kentucky Derby. Since its inception, seven Santa Anita Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. This race awards points to the top four finishers of 100:40:20:10 for a stall in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. SEE UPDATED RESULTS

California Chrome Horse

Morning line favorite California Chrome, shown above winning the San Felipe Stakes, teams up once again with jockey Victor Espinoza for the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, April 5, 2014.
Photo: ©Benoit Photo

The 2014 Santa Anita Derby is set to take place on Saturday, April 5th, 2014 at Arcadia California and is for 3 year-olds ready to run 1 1/8 miles for the first time in their young careers for a purse of $1,000,000.

Nearly $2 million in stakes purses are offered on Santa Anita Derby Day. They are also sporting a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4, free Derby Day T-shirts with paid admission (while supplies last), 30 local food trucks throughout the infield and the annual 5K. Sounds like a rock-on party to me and I wish I had the time to drive over.

The 2014 Santa Anita Handicap is the 8th race of the day on a loaded card of 11 with a start time of 3:30 pm, PST.

Last weekend our regular guest handicapper Sigi Mendoza tackled the Lousiana Derby where he picked Vicar’s In Trouble and Intense Holiday, who hit the board 1st and second. I picked Intense Holiday, Commanding Curve and Albano. These guys came in 2nd, 3rd and 4th. So I’d have to see we did pretty good. Sigi did smashingly good as usual picking the winner and second place finisher for the exacta.

This week Sigi and I decided to try something a little different so we are going to breakdown the race horse-by-horse in order from post #1. We’ll each write how we see the race running and our picks/plays. I’ll let our guest handicapper Sigifredo Mendoza (Sigi) take the first shot. You can follow Sigi on Twitter  @sigimendoza and myself @horseflynawall.

Post #1 – Rprettyboyfloyd 20-1 – Bluegrass Cat (Sire)
Sigi: The eternal second place horse, now with Bejarano in the irons, is trying to break his maiden in a G1 race. He lost his last two races by a nose, and a head, always looking like the winner in the stretch. It seems that he’s a one-turn mile horse and definately wouldn’t like to run farther. I’m tossing him.

Kari: Still looking to break his maiden and is wearing the hood here. Does have a 100 speed figure last out. Seems to have seconditis with a race record of 5:0:4:1. Has ran second to both Chelios & Bayern so he’s barking-up the right tree as was 3rd in the (GII) San Vicente and has never been off the board. Seems like they are using the races as works as he last raced 3/23/14. Taking a pass on him for the win but may be one to use in tris or supers.

Post #2 – Friendswith K Mill 20-1 – Flashy Bull (sire)
Sigi: This horse was second in a decent effort against The Admiral, who is skipping the Santa Anita Derby, and was shipped to New York to run in the 7 furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct Saturday. I think this race is a big step-up in class for the O’Neill horse, so I’m passing on him here. Maybe next time.

Kari: I like this Flashy Bull colts last two races. Broke his maiden 2/7/14 at this track going a mile where he split foes and took the rail shot to win. Last out was second to The Admiral in an allowance, earning a speed figure of 98. Has a race record of 5:1:1. O’Neill trained and he is looking for his derby horse with Bond Holder out, so they are taking a chance here. Pass for the win but another that could be a nice play in exotics.

Post #3 – Hoppertunity 3-1 – Any Given Saturday (sire)
Sigi: He’s one of the Baffert hopes to win the Kentucky Derby. In his last race, he won the Rebel (G2), against horses like Tapiture, Ride On Curlin and Strong Mandate at Oaklawn Park, a totally different track than Santa Anita. He is classified to the Derby, so he doesn’t need the points. I expect a huge effort from him, but not necessarily a victory. He must leave gas in the tank for the Derby.

Kari:- This Baffert baby has a race record of 4:2:0. Recently won the (GII) Rebel where he beat Tapiture & Ride On Curlin on 3/15/14 earning him a 105 speed figure. He’s coming off a short break, doesn’t need the points, so could be a tune up and probably running for purse money. He broke his Maiden on this track 2 races ago and followed that up with a gamely 4th in the Risen Star on 2/22/14. We’ll see how he does with the extra realestate. Major player.

Post #4 – Big Tire 20-1 – Candy Ride (sire)
Sigi: This Candy Ride broke his maiden after six attempts, beating Rprettyboyfloyd and Dublin Up, both entered in this race. Visually he’s a slow horse, but might appreciate the extra-furlong. If the pace is hot, he should hit the board.

Kari: This Candy Ride guy broke his maiden last out 3/7/14 beating Rprettyboyfloyd and Dublin Up getting a speed figure of 100. This Glatt trained colt has a race record of 6:1:2. He has two prior races going 1 1/16 on this track, both times running second. Love the Candy Rides and he should be ready to roll and get a share here. Could definitely hit the board.

Post #5 – California Chrome 6-5 – Lucky Pulpit (sire)
Sigi: It’s time for the horse of the house! The Cal-bred crushed the field in the San Felip Stakes, he ran 1 1/16 miles in a really fast 1:40.59, running too hard in the last quarter. In this race he doesn’t need to take the lead, he must rate and make his move when Espinoza decides. Is the horse to beat.

Kari: This bad boy is coming off a 3 race win-streak and fast as hell. This Art Sherman trained colt deserves the favoratism here. Has a race record of 9:5:1 with the top speed figure of 109 from his win in the (GII) San Felipe, beating out Midnight Hawk & Kristo. Already has his hoof in the gate for the Kentucky Derby with 50 points so the pressure is off here. Could be more of a tune-up and running for purse money also. Major player and the one to beat on this speed-favoring track.

Post #6 – Candy Boy 9-5 – Candy Ride (sire)
Sigi: This Candy Ride is returning from a 2 month layoff, but is working very well for the race. He surely will run great and earn the points to run in the Kentucky Derby. Gary Stevens stays in the irons and that’s a plus. Not sure he can win, but he’s in the top three.

Kari: He’s coming of a 2 month lay-off after winning the (GII) Robert B. Lewis Stakes on 2/8/14 earning him a 97 speed figure. Prior he ran second in the Cashcall Futurity on 12/14/13. So he won off a prior two-month lay-off. This John Sadler trainee is a major contender who needs points as he only has 10, more incentive here than the other top two. Theoretically he should be the one prepared to run the best out of all of them. Winner winner chicken dinner.

Post #7 – Schoolofhardrocks 10-1 – Rock Hard Ten (sire)
Sigi: Broke his maiden when unveiled at Del Mar, but then was sidelined for 7 months. He returned in the San Felipe Stakes, in a disappointing effort. He could improve in his second start off the lay-off, but…..his pedigree on the dams side indicates he’ll appreciate the turf or synthetic surfaces.

Kari: Very lightly raced colt with 2:1 race record. Won his maiden at Del Mar at first asking 8/31/13 and was off for 7 months, not sure the reason. David Hofman trained colt has the pedigree for the distance to run forever. After his 4th in the San Felipe off the lay-off and getting bumped at the break, this guy is a player for me. If he continues to take to the dirt, watch out. Getting some points here is the key so we’ll see. Has some very nice works in the last two months on this track. Second off the layoff and he could hit the board to steal a piece.

Post #8 – Dublin Up 30-1 – Unbridled’s Song (sire)
Sigi: He’s another non-winner running in a G1 stakes, but improving race by race. In his last, he took the lead and was third by only a neck, behind Big Tire and Rprettyboyfloyd. After the race, he worked an amazing 6F in 1:11.4 and then 4F in 48.30 at San Luis Rey training center. He’s going to take the lead and say to everybody “come and catch me”.

Kari: Also looking for his maiden win. He’s headed in the right direction with his last two races coming in third. He set the pace on 3/7/14 last out, losing to two others here, Big Tire and Rprettyboyfloyd. Tough spot out front. He has a race record of 4:0:0:2 and I’m taking a pass here for this Win Star Farm/Peter Miller trained colt for the win. Can he hang on for a piece though?

Race Analysis and Play for the 2014 Santa Anita Derby:
Sigi: I don’t see a long shot winning this race, so I’m playing California Chrome to win, and a trifecta 5/3-6/3-6-4-8
Kari: California Chrome is the one to beat but with his pedigree I’m questioning the further he goes. He could win here but the Kentucky Derby not so sure. Dublin Up should be out front early with possibly Rprettyboyfloyd to join. California Chrome should be able to rate here. Big Tire and Schoolofhardrocks might edge out one of the top three in the trifecta. However, I’ll side with my Candy Boy for the win. My play will be a $1 pick 3 starting with race #8: 5,6/8,10,11/4,6 $12.

Nice ‘cappin Sigi and once again thank you for always doing such a fantastic job. This has been so much fun and I really enjoy the friendship. Good luck to the colts, their connections and all you horse racing fans wagering this weekend.

Related Links:
What to wear to Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Derby 2014 Post Positions & Odds
1. Rprettyboyfloyd* 20/1 R.Bejarano/D.Breuer
2. Friendswith K Mill 20/1 T.Baze/D.O’Neill
3. Hoppertunity 3/1 M.Smith/B.Baffert
4. Big Tire 20/1 E.Maldonado/M.Glatt
5. California Chrome 6/5 V.Espinoza/A.Sherman
6. Candy Boy 9/5  G.Stevens/J.Sadler
7. Schoolofhardrocks 10/1 J.Talamo/D.Hofmans
8. Dublin Up 30/1 K.Desormeaux/P.Miller
*Rprettyboyfloyd – blinkers