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Super Santa Anita Derby Day Awaits

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. 

Royal Heroine 

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.