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Breeders' Cup 2017

Creative Cause 6-5 Favorite in Santa Anita Derby

Consummately consistent Creative Cause is the 6-5 morning line favorite to lead the way to Kentucky among 10 entrants in Saturday’s 75th running of the mile-and-one-eighth, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, a Grade I event that has produced 15 Kentucky Derby champions.


Never more than one length behind at the wire in any of his seven starts, Creative Cause’s four wins include a hard-fought, three-quarter-length victory over the highly regarded and slightly favored Bodemeister in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10.


Joel Rosario, headed for his second consecutive Santa Anita riding title, will be aboard Heinz Steinmann’s gray colt for the fifth straight time. Creative Cause drew the rail. His 27-year-old jockey and trainer Mike Harrington, 71, will be seeking their first wins in Santa Anita’s historic race for 3-year-olds.


Their obstacles include (a) the flashy I’ll Have Another, who seemed to come from out of nowhere to post a stunning 43-1 upset in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, and who is the second choice at 5-2; (b) Holy Candy, who took four races to break his maiden but who did so magnificently; (c) the winless Brother Francis, whose four races including two graded stakes have earned the maiden $135,720, and (d) the “Baffert Factor.”


Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has saddled six of the past 16 winners of the Santa Anita Derby including 13-1 outsider Midnight Interlude last year, entered three runners in Saturday’s field. Baffert also raced a trio in 2003; finishing second, third and fifth. His entrants on Saturday will be Liaison, 8-1, winner of last December’s Grade I CashCall Futurity, but winless in two starts this year; Paynter, 12-1, a maiden-breaker in his only start, and two-time winner Blueskiesnrainbows, 20-1, who could have been claimed for $30,000 last December.


The 75th Santa Anita Derby will be contested as the sixth race (2:46 p.m.) on an 11-race program that includes three other stakes headed by the 30th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs that features 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie.


First post is at 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m. A crowd of over 40,000 is expected. Fans will receive a free Derby Day t-shirt with each paid admission. The Santa Anita Derby, along with the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct, will be aired live during a 1 ½-hour NBC telecast that begins at 1:30 p. m.


Creative Cause, who finished one length behind victorious Hansen and current Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November at Churchill Downs, has compiled a 4-1-2 record in his seven races for earnings of $719,000. His victory in the San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles lifted Creative Cause back to the top of his game after he had begun the season with a third-place finish sprinting in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes.


“A lot of people thought the San Vicente was a bad race,” Harrington said following the San Felipe. “I was ecstatic with it.” A licensed veterinarian, he emphasized the importance of “progression.” “I said all along it’s a progression,” Harrington explained, “and the only thing I hope is that he doesn’t peak in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the Kentucky Derby.” Creative Cause was an impressive 3 ¾-length winner of Santa Anita’s Grade I Norfolk Stakes prior to his solid performance in the Breeders’ Cup.


Interestingly, Harrington removes blinkers from his stable star, who has run all seven of his previous races with the headgear in place.


Should Harrington make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, it would be the septuagenarian’s first Kentucky Derby. When Steinmann, his primary client, asked Harrington last spring to “find another Swiss Yodeler,” he wound up purchasing three horses at sale. Among them was Creative Cause, a son of Giant’s Causeway who brought $135,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September sale.


In deference to Steinmann’s directive, Harrington recalled, “I told Mr. Steinmann, ‘This is impossible. I could buy horses for another 10 years and never get that lucky.’” Swiss Yodeler won five stakes for the pair as a 2-year-old in 1996 including the Grade I Hollywood Futurity. But after finishing ninth in the 1997 Santa Anita Derby, Harrington’s first, Swiss Yodeler never made it to Kentucky.


Aside from Swiss Yodeler and his productive offspring, Harrington might be best known for a five-day racing week at Hollywood Park in May of 2006 when he won eight races from 10 starters. “Except for the week I married my wife, that was pretty cool,” commented the laconic trainer.


After flying under the radar in three sprints as a 2-year-old including a sixth-place finish in the Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, I’ll Have Another burst into the Derby picture when racing around two turns for the first time in the Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4. “We thought this horse was a two-turn horse,” owner J. Paul Reddam said afterward in what seemed classic understatement.

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who ranks 17th in all-time wins at Santa Anita but who has failed to hit the board with three Santa Anita Derby starters, acknowledges that he was taken aback by I’ll Have Another’s performance in the Lewis when traveling 1 1/16 miles in a blistering 1:40.84.


“He’s always trained fantastic, but we never saw this coming, to be honest with you,” O’Neill said afterward. “This is incredible.” Mario Gutierrez, a standout jockey in Canada in recent years, was along for the ride in the Lewis. Gutierrez, 25, will be seeking his initial Grade I victory in his first Santa Anita Derby.


With $151,000 in graded stakes earnings, I’ll Have Another needs a strong showing on Saturday to qualify for the May 5 Kentucky Derby. The son of Flower Alley was purchased by Reddam for $35,000 last April. Reddam subsequently named the chestnut colt in recognition of his nightly response when asked by his wife, Zillah, “Do you want any more cookies?”


Baffert is confident that Saturday’s mile-and-one-eighth distance will flatter Liaison, whose $393,000 in graded earnings ensure a spot in the Kentucky Derby lineup. The Indian Charlie offspring will have to improve off his dull fourth-place run in the San Felipe. “He definitely needs more ground,” said Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes. “I think he wants every bit of a mile and an eighth.” Should Liaison emerge triumphant, Arnold Zetcher would become the first owner to win back-to-back Santa Anita Derbies since C. V. Whitney won with Tompion in 1960 following Silver Spoon’s victory the year before. Rafael Bejarano has the mount.


Holy Candy, listed at 8-1 on Jon White’s morning line, lacks any graded stakes earnings, so a victory is vital if the son of Candy Ride is to reach the Kentucky Derby. Following three second-place finishes, he scored a dazzling maiden win by 3 ½ lengths on March 23 under Rosario. Holy Candy ran one mile in 1:35.98 and galloped out very strongly. “We’ve thought all along he was our best 3-year-old,” trainer John Sadler said afterward, “and it was nice to see him finish and gallop out the way he did.”


With Rosario committed to Creative Cause, Alonso Quinonez will be aboard the gray colt on Saturday. Bred by Jenny Craig’s Craig Family Trust, Holy Candy is owned by Craig Stables in partnership with Donkey Island Racing, whose group includes New Orleans Saints All Pro quarterback Drew Brees.


Midnight Transfer, third in the San Felipe after taking the six-furlong San Pedro Stakes, is pegged at 10-1. “I’ll be a longshot in the Santa Anita Derby, but it is what it is,” said Carla Gaines, who trains Midnight Transfer for Warren Williamson. “Mr. Williamson (who is 83) is having some health issues. He wants to see his horse run here and he wants to try the Derby, so the pressure is off. We’re going to do it and see what happens.” Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith replaces Victor Espinoza, who is sidelined with a broken hand.


The last maiden to win the Kentucky Derby was Broker’s Tip in 1933, and such an occurrence has yet to transpire in the Santa Anita Derby. Brother Francis, therefore, faces an enormous challenge. But he closed strongly to finish third behind Liaison and Rousing Sermon in the CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles, and the extra sixteenth may suit the winless son of Lion Heart trained by James Cassidy for owner-breeder Norman Cheng. “I’ve got a legitimate excuse for the horse every time he runs,” Cassidy told the Daily Racing Form. “One thing I’ve got in my favor – he will try harder than anyone else.” Garrett Gomez takes over for Espinoza aboard Brother Francis, who is a 20-1 longshot.


The complete field for the Santa Anita Derby, with jockeys and morning line odds in post position order (all starters carry 122 pounds): Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 6-5; Liaison, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Holy Candy, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; I’ll Have Another, Mario Gutierrez, 5-2; Longview Drive, Russell Baze, 12-1; Paynter, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Senor Rain, Eswan Flores, 15-1; Midnight Transfer, Mike Smith, 10-1; Blueskiesnrainbows, Joseph Talamo, 20-1, and Brother Francis, Garrett Gomez, 20-1.


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Older Comments about Creative Cause 6-5 Favorite in Santa Anita Derby...

i love the key rider change to gomez on brother francis,I'll take 20-1 on the maiden,ACE PICKS
I see CC and I'll Have Another in a duel to the wire. They are both fast, and if IHA's speed from the Rbt B Lewis holds true in the S
I like Mike, have known him from his days at Yakima Meadows, it would be great for a hardtack like him to win the big one, and kudos to his main man steinman, owners that stick with trainers are few and far between, but normally are winners in the long run
He is going to be tough to beat, If he wins he will take a lot of $$$ on derby day. 3 graded stakes in a row... only C.C and secret circle have an opportunity to do that. All on dirt!
The Big Gray Beast will roll on Saturday.....No one is concerned about taking the blinks off....it's how they run when you put them on......Best of Lukc to Mr. Harrington and the whole shedrow....This is a fantastic story of "good Horseman and a great owner.....Nice work you two....This is not the race to play CC.....This is a race to observe....also his last work,.....Let the Big Hoss Roll.....Gray Ghost will awaken to watch this warrior run on Saturday....Viva Harrington....Viva Creative Cause! Hup Hup! Prof. Timmy
Oh, sorry, now I see she has love for CC too.
Okay. She's at the Howe Great thread. lol
Im with Sally eastman
Alwasy liked this one but the problem is that he never deliverd a real knock out punch yet. Has the style to win at 10 in his May year, but I would really like to see a step up this Saturday before he could be ranked up near the top of this sophomore class. Hope I witness just that Saturday.
I'd like to know more about Longview Drive.....I think he may do well Saturday. I like CC also. That's a great horse!
I did get it from someone else, but it doesn't mean it isn't true. Believe me, CC is my favorite, just not the horse I think will win. Why I've even talked and still do to Kasey Harrington, Mike's daughter about this little grey horse. With that nice Irish blood on top I can only hope he crushes. Remember Comma To The Top and Midnight Interlude, though, the SA Derby can be downright nasty as far as preps go.
cocoa, I know you read that comment from someone else. You have seen him as a winner, btw. I just wouldn't want him to peak in this race, but I'd love for Creative Cause to win. Junebug has it right.
This is a good horse...I like this chances of winning the derby more than Hansen because of this horse running style. If he stay a couple length back from the front runner and have a clear path, look out. He have great acceleration.
He does have 3rd-itis. He is a good horse, I just don't see him as a winner.
I'm really curious to see how Creative Cause runs without blinkers. He should still be the favorite in this field, but 6/5 seems a bit aggressive with the gear change.
Love this beautiful horse! He has the breeding and stamina to get it done..

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