Santa Anita Derby-G1, Santa Anita
Race 9, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Distance: 1 1/8-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $1 Million
2018 Santa Anita Derby Picks
- 1. Justify
- 2. Bolt d’Oro
- 3. Instilled regard
Santa Anita Derby Analysis
The 81st running of the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday looks like a two-horse race and will probably be more for watching the betting, although if for some crazy reason you can get 6/5 on morning line favourite Justify he’s worth betting on.
The talented son of Scat Daddy has annihilated his opposition in his only two starts and his trainer Bob Baffert has won this race seven times. Justify retains top rider Mike Smith as he stretches out off a mile N1X win over a muddy track at Santa Anita on March 11 to the 1 1/8-miles of the Santa Anita Derby.
Top jock Javier Castellano is back in California to ride Bolt d’Oro after piloting that tough guy to win the San Felipe Stakes-G2 via disqualification over McKinzie on March 10. That was his first start back off a four-month layoff and he ran better than expected in a knock-down drag-out fight with McKinzie through the stretch. He certainly showed heart in that race, and he is far more battle tested than Justify, but we have some concerns.
Trainer Mick Ruis has only a three percent win clip with horses making their second start off the layoff and Bolt d’Oro could bounce off that tough race. If he’s truly a good horse he could move forward off his opener, and that would make him very tough to beat, but he’s already qualified for the Kentucky Derby so how deep will they go to try and win this race with the Derby only a month away.
If the top two in here run their best races they should run away from the field in the stretch, and we could be in for a great battle. If they go at each other early, the beneficiary should be Instilled Regard, but after good-looking win in the Lecomte Stakes-G3 at Fair Grounds on January 13, he came back to finish fourth in the Risen Star Stakes-G2 at the same track on February 17. He had no excuse in that race after stalking a duel and Castellano takes off him to ride Bolt d’Oro in here. Joel Rosario will ride Instilled Regard.
Instilled Regard is a decent horse, but he certainly doesn’t have a lock on the third, or even fourth slot in the Santa Anita Derby Superfecta. After the top two, this race is wide open.
Strong’s Pick: Justify