by Jeremy Plonk
April 1, 2019
Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby Day card at the Great Race Place takes on even more sizzle than usual. March’s cancelled race dates created a shift in the stakes schedule, putting the Santa Anita Handicap on a stuffed marquee alongside the Triple Crown hopefuls. In all, 7 stakes will be offered, 5 of them graded.
Entries for the big day will be drawn Wednesday, and to get you ready for the big events, here’s your ‘Super Santa Anita Derby Day’ primer.
Last Year: Come-backing Fatale Bere (FR) capitalized on a stalking trip behind dueling leaders to win her 2018 unveiling. The 7-1 shot had been away since disappointing November efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and Jimmy Durante. Fatale Bere (FR) would go on to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August.
Know This: Forgiveness has been rewarded in the Providencia as 5 of the last 6 winners exited prep losses. Fatale Bere (8th) and Decked Out (5th) finished off the board in their prior starts before turning the tide in 2018 and 2016, respectively.
Know This: 9 of the last 10 winners of this race were stretching out in distance from 1-mile races and adding an additional furlong.
Know This: 6 of the last 8 Providencia winners were 3-1 or less on the toteboard. Only Spirit of Xian (16-1 in 2015) and Fatale Bere (7-1 a year ago) were larger.
Last Year: Jockey Joel Rosario brought Beau Recall (IRE) from last of nine to first at the wire with a well-timed, three-quarter-length score. The Irish-bred filly snapped an 8-race losing streak while notching her first career stakes victory. Favorite Enola Gray faded to fourth in her first start since July.
Know This: The Royal Heroine has been a great betting race in recent years with the last 4 winners going off playable prices at 4-1, 7-1, 5-1 and 4-1. Favorites during that span have finished 4th, 4th, 2nd and 2nd for the exotics.
Know This: Jockey Flavien Prat is 21: 7-3-4 in Santa Anita turf mile stakes since the start of 2018 – with victories for 5 different trainers. He’s posted a $1.28 ROI for every $1 bet on those mounts
Know This: 12 of the last 18 Royal Heroine winners were foreign-bred performers, paced by 4 via Great Britain and 3 via Ireland.
Santa Anita Oaks
Last Year: Odds-on favorite Midnight Bisou rallied from eighth of nine fillies to soar by the field and post a 3-and-one-half-length victory. It marked her third graded stakes win of the meet, following the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Grade 2 Santa Ysabel. She went on to run third in the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Know This: The highest-priced Santa Anita Oaks favorite since 1991 has been 9-5 shot Pleasant Stage, the 1992 winner. The Oaks has featured heavy favorites at 3-5, 4-5, 1-9, 6-5, 6-5 and 3-10 the last 6 years, netting 4 wins and 2 runner-ups among them.
Know This: 4 straight Oaks editions have been clear-cut victories by 3 lengths or more. The last close have came in 2012 when Willa B Awesome pulled a nose upset at 13-1 over Reneesgotzip.
Know This: 6 straight Oaks winners exited victories at the Santa Anita meet, including 3 from the Santa Ysabel, 2 from the Las Virgenes and Paradise Woods’ rise from the maiden ranks.
Santa Anita Handicap
Last Year: Accelerate, the 5-2 favorite, dominated by 5-and-one-half lengths while starting off his eventual Eclipse Award-winning season with a second straight win at the meet. The Grade 2 San Pasqual victor would score 4 more successive Grade 1s to end the year, highlighted by the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Know This: Favorites have accounted for the last 2 Big ‘Cap editions, Shaman Ghost and Accelerate, and 4 of the last 6.
Know This: Since 1996, only Melatonin in 2016 has pulled a double-digit odds upset of the Santa Anita Handicap. The 16-1 shot stands as the race’s biggest price since Mr. Purple shook the tote at 18-1 in 1996.
Know This: 6 straight Santa Anita Handicap winners have been within 3 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile. Ron the Greek (2012) was the last deep closer to score.
Santa Anita Derby
Last Year: Eventual Triple Crown champion Justify made his stakes debut a 3-length triumph over Bolt d’Oro while winning for the third time at the meet. The wire-to-wire score came against a cast that included Instilled Regard, who would go on run fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Know This: Trainer Bob Baffert has a record 8 victories in the Santa Anita Derby. Interestingly, only Point Given and Justify of those have gone on to win a race in the Triple Crown series.
Know This: 13 straight Santa Anita Derby winners have exited local preps, including 11 from stakes races at the meet.
Know This: The Santa Anita Derby has produced 11 Kentucky Derby winners overall and 9 runner-ups in the run for the roses. Since 2005, those successes include Giacomo, I’ll Have Another, California Chrome and Justify.