by Jeremy Plonk
June 2, 2020
Saturday’s Runhappy Santa Anita Derby anchors an 11-race program loaded with star horses and horsemen. Entries for the full card will be drawn Wednesday. Stick with Xpressbet and 1/ST throughout the week for updates, workout analysis, handicapping selections and more.
So, who might be poised for the biggest day on Saturday? We drove the Betmix database, which powers the 1/ST Bet app, to see for ourselves.
Baffert Dialed in for Derby
Bob Baffert’s record 9 Santa Anita Derby winners make him the obvious place to start in Santa Anita Derby handicapping. Note that since 2013, Baffert is 7: 3-4-0 in the SA Derby with horses 3-1 or less in the morning line. If they’re supposed to fire, they have fired.
Staking Their Claim
During the 2019-2020 Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, trainers Peter Miller (7-22, 32%) and Bob Baffert (7-36, 19%) have had the most success in stakes races. Richard Mandella (5-19, 26%) and John Sadler (5-20, 20%) are right on their heels, followed by John Shirreffs (4-12, 33%). It’s Shirreffs with the best ROI among that group, checking in at $1.88 back on every $1 bet.
In the saddle, Flavien Prat (10-48, 21%) and Abel Cedillo (10-53, 19%) lead the jockey colony in stakes wins. Mike Smith (8-31, 26%), Joel Rosario (7-30, 23%) and Victor Espinoza (5-22, 23%) are the other riders to watch. But it’s only Cedillo showing a flat-bet profit, boasting a $1.61 ROI for each $1 investment.
While the historic Hollywood Gold Cup reverts to its former name this year (contested in recent years as the Gold Cup at Santa Anita), it will be held at its traditional 1-1/4 miles classic distance. Of the 24 races held at Santa Anita over this distance since 2013 on dirt, trainers John Sadler (6) and Bob Baffert (5) account for nearly half the wins. They own 10 of the 18 stakes tallies at the trip during that time, both with identical 5-17 marks. Mike Smith (4-15, 27%) not surprisingly has been the most successful jockey in these Santa Anita stakes, while Victor Espinoza (3-8, 38%) has been on point.
Horses exiting 1-mile preps are 0-11 in classic-distance stakes at Santa Anita since 2013; 2-17 when last raced at 1-1/16 miles; 13-91 when last at 1-1/8 miles; and 2-31 when returning at the same 1-1/4 miles distance. The only horse to prep shorter than a mile, won, when Vino Rosso came out of the 2019 Carter Handicap before taking this very race.