2014 Santa Anita Derby Picks – Horse Race Analysis – Race 8

2014 Santa Anita Derby Picks and Analysis - Candy Boy heart play

by Kenneth Strong, Horse Race Handicapper, Predictem.com

Santa Anita Derby-G1, Race 8, Santa Anita, Saturday, April 5, 2014

3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8-miles, Dirt, Purse: $1 Million

2014 Santa Anita Derby Picks

1. Candy Boy

2. California Chrome

3. Hoppertunity

4. Dublin Up

2014 Santa Anita Derby Analysis

The Santa Anita Derby-G1 goes as the eighth race on Saturday’s card at Santa Anita and features a battle between three major Kentucky Derby contenders, two of whom are proven fighters and another who has untested talent. The problem is we can’t separate them, yet.

California Chrome is the 6/5 morning line favorite of the nine entrants in the Santa Anita Derby, coming into the race off three romping wins in a row including a 7 1/4-length win in the San Felipe-G2 going 1 1/16-miles at Santa Anita on March 8. He was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for that win, and the second place finisher came back to finish second in the Sunland Derby.

There’s no question California Chrome has talent, and he doesn’t need the lead to win, but he did get a relatively easy lead on a speed favoring track in the San Felipe and we’re wondering if his speed figure in that race was a little inflated. Additionally, horses who come off romping open-length wins naturally don’t get as fit as they might if they were under pressure, and how many times have you seen a horse come into the Kentucky Derby off blowout wins only to wilt when it counted. Granted, these kind of horses do win the Santa Anita Derby, but

While California Chrome could win the Santa Anita Derby on straight talent, we’re going to take a shot on Candy Boy, one of the two proven fighters in the race, the other being Hoppertunity.

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Candy Boy is listed at 9/5 on the morning line and he’ll likely need some kind of fightup front to set up his stretch run, but he did impress while winning the R B Lewis-G2 at Santa Anita going 1 1/16-miles on February 8, and he also showed his class while finishing second in the Cash Call Futurity-G1 at Hollywood Park last year. Additionally, the horse he defeated in the R B Lewis came back to win the Sunland Derby-G3.

Candy Boy was given a 96 Beyer Speed Figure for his R B Lewis win, but it was more the way that hehe did it that impressed us. When jockey Gary Stevens took him to the outside at the top of the stretch he laid it down like a good horse to defeat a very game Chitu by a 1/2-length. As long as California Chrome doesn’t sneak away and steal it, we’re thinking Candy Boy could battle that one into defeat in the in the drive to the wire.

The other proven fighter in this year’s Santa Anita Derby is Hoppertunity, who comes into the race off a hard fought 1/2-length win in the Rebel Stakes-G2 going 1 1/16-miles in the slop at Oaklawn Park on March 15. While he did get a good trip stalking a pressured pace in that race, he was bumped hard and repeatedly in the drive by Southwest Stakes-G3 winner Tapiture and fought on gamely to prevail by a 1/2-length over that one. He may not be quite ready for California Chrome and Candy Boy yet, but he soon will be if he continues to improve.

While California Chrome could win the Santa Anita Derby at a short price, we’re a sucker for heart, so we’ll take Candy Boy to win-place and use him top and bottom with Hoppertunity and California Chrome in the exactor. Need a flyer? The potential longshot speed for the Santa Anita Derby Superfecta could be Dublin Up at 30-1.

Good Luck!