• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 5 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 5 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 5 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 8 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 11 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 11 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 11 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 11 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 11 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 12 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:

The Derby Trail goes through Santa Anita

As the calendar flips to 2012, the next Kentucky Derby winner turns three-years-old and their connections map out a four-month campaign that will lead them to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

The road to Louisville, Ky. through California goes through Santa Anita Park, where the trail culminates with the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (Grade I) run over 1 1/8-miles on April 7. It’s been over two decades since the Santa Anita Derby winner went on to win the Kentucky Derby, when it happened in back-to-back years from 1988-89 with Winning Colors and Sunday Silence.

In the 90’s, Real Quiet and Silver Charm, both trained by Bob Baffert, exited runner-up efforts in the Santa Anita Derby ahead of Kentucky Derby glory, and Giacomo, the only Kentucky Derby winner to come through California in the last 10 years, finished fourth in the 2005 Santa Anita Derby before lighting up the tote at 50-to-1 at Churchill Downs.

Baffert hasn’t won the Kentucky Derby since 2002 when he scored for the third time in six years with War Emblem, who took the Illinois/Louisiana trail to Louisville. That drought could end in 2012 with the cavalcade of talent stabled with the silver-haired wizard, which also means he’s likely to again ship some of his runners to other circuits for their preps.

At this early stage, Baffert’s Liaison, whose sire Indian Charlie ended his career with a third-place effort in the Kentucky Derby in 1998 after winning the Santa Anita Derby, is the leading contender from California off his win in the Cash Call Futurity (Grade I) at Hollywood Park on December 17 that pushed his career earnings to $469,560.

A fourth-place finish in the Futurity also puts stable mate Sky Kingdom on the radar. Both will potentially make their next starts at Santa Anita in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis run over 1 1/16-miles on February 4.

Second to Liaison in both the Cash Call Futurity and the Real Quiet Stakes, California-bred Rousing Sermon, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, could also show up in the Robert B. Lewis, as could the third-place Futurity finisher Brother Francis, who has yet to break his maiden for James Cassidy.

A perfect 3-for-3 to start his career, including the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November, Baffert’s Secret Circle is likely to stretch out to a route of ground for the first time in the $100,000 Sham Stakes (Grade III) on January 7 at Santa Anita.

Named after the 1973 winner of the Santa Anita Derby who went on to finish second behind Secretariat in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the first local three-year-old prep that goes at a mile on the main track is also likely to include Hierro, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in November for the nation’s leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

The final prep for the Santa Anita Derby comes on March 10 with the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (Grade II) also run at 1 1/16-miles, which is where we could see the return of Creative Cause, who has been given a break by trainer Mike Harrington since running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I).

Creative Cause has already earned $521,000 off multiple graded stakes wins along with a runner-up effort in the Del Mar Futurity (Grade I) to Drill, who is also trained by Baffert and was at the head of the juvenile class before getting drilled in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Delta Jackpot (Grade III) and Cash Call Futurity.

With earnings of over $681,000 after winning the Delta Jackpot, Asmussen’s Sabercat is stabled at Santa Anita and will also likely be pointed to the San Felipe.

It’s probable we’ve mentioned at least some of the runners that will emerge from California to head east for the Kentucky Derby, but with the abundance of talent on the back side that ranges across many top barns, it would be no surprise to see other names get in the mix.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for much more and visit www.pick4blog.com for daily selections and analysis!

To view my horse racing channel on YouTube click here!

Listen to my weekly HD Los Angeles sports podcast!


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about The Derby Trail goes through Santa Anita...

Hey bloggers why would Baffert run two of his best derby prospects aginst each other so early on the derby trail?
Forgot to mention Fly Lexis Fly...who I believe is headed to SA to Drysdale's Barn???
Overall, it really looks like the best future SA Derby we've seen in awhile. So many good ones this time, compared to just 1 or 2 standouts thrown in with others. Creative Cause, Liaison, Secret Circle, Drill, Sabercat, Rousing Sermon, Hierro - now you can throw in Fed Biz after a very impressive maiden win yesterday, and Sky Kingdom's regal pedigree might just peak somewhere down the line. With all those said, it looks much more contentious out in CA than back east, where Hansen and Union Rags seem to be taking the opinionated-cake . Will be interesting to see who Baffert and Assmusen send to Oaklawn, or if others decide to ship to SA, now w/ conventional dirt.
With respect to Secret Circle being able to able to go distance; he's be working regularly and as done a couple of recent 6f bullets...the Sam is gong to be an interesting race. I'm keeping my eye on LD as well....
It's surprising that the SA Derby winner hasn't won at Churchill in 23 years, but a deceiving stat. One of my favorite angles is playing a runner up in Derby prep in the KY Derby. Plus, many SA horses ship out to get a taste of dirt before Derby. I still think Lookin At Lucky was the class of his crop.
listen to what the individual does and not the theoretical pedigree
Secret Circle's pedigree indicates that he may have some distance in him, but two of his dam's 3 wins were in sprints. If he gets the distance, it will probably be from his sire line. So far, though, he looks like he'll do better sprinting.
The "you mentioned" was from the first sentence.
DH, I would like to know more about the pure talent of Secret Circle (SC, those initials always have my old brain working to figure out which horse?) because Creative Cause has beaten or finished ahead of the best horses in Secret Circle's first two races and I just watched the replay again to remind myself of the quite noticeable drifting in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint by Secret Circle. I would think, given his speed that Secret Circle will stay in sprints, but I see some news that he may be tried in longer races. Do you think so? you mentioned
CC has yet to face Liaison, Sabercat, Hierro, or SC. CC is probably the most accomplished, with Liaison right there, but on pure talent, SC wins that. Sabercat seems to love distance, so none of these can be counted out.
There doesn't seem to be a single standout like Lookin at Lucky, but the depth is pretty good, looks like a few horses with a good chance to improve and win some big races next year, maybe even the Derby.
Rousing Sermon should like to stretch out, but to me Creative Cause is the best CA colt, and right up there with the best of his age in the nation. Don't forget that he drilled his rivals in the Norfolk.
TOO EARLY to know, but if that track does not calm down, it will be very difficult to evaluate an Anita shipper to an eastern course.

Related Pages

Meet Marc Doche


As a life long horse racing fan and handicapper, it’s an honor to be joining
Horseracingnation.com to share my knowledge and expertise on a daily basis to horse racing fans.
Since the early 1980’s when I visited Santa Anita with my grandfather as a young boy, the track has been in my blood. As soon as I turned 16, I was driving out to the track as much as possible, and with the advent of the self-service machines, was able to wager hassle free.
After graduating from UCLA in 2000, I began my career in sports media as a site manager for Athletesdirect.com and a couple of years later became the Media Relations Coordinator for the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League.
In the past few years, I have moved my focus to covering the Sport of Kings and have worked in the early hours to better understand morning workouts and putting the pieces of the handicapping puzzle together.
I have also used my journalistic talents to produce video coverage of stakes races in Southern California, as well as interviews with jockeys, trainers, owners and more. I look forward to providing their in-depth insight to you.

Related Stories

Top Stories