Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita Derby RaceSanta Anita Derby 2013 | This year’s Santa Anita Derby takes place on April 6th. Hear the Ghost, winner of the Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, is likely to reappear in the Derby. He could face a rematch with the runner-up Flashback who suffered the first loss of his career for trainer Bob Baffert. Garrett Gomez has been booked to replace Julien Leparoux aboard Flashback in the race. The third and fourth in the San Felipe, Tiz A Minister and Goldencents, could also be in the line up.

About Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby is a Grade I race for three-year-olds at Santa Anita Park in with prize money of $1 million. It was first held in 1935 and is widely regarded as the most important West Coast trial for the Kentucky Derby. Seven horses have gone on from victory in the Santa Anita Derby to win the Kentucky Derby.

It is now run over a distance of nine furlongs and has been run on a variety of surfaces in recent years. It returned to a dirt track in 2011 after various artificial surfaces from 2008. The best guides to the Santa Anita Derby are the San Rafael Stakes, San Miguel Stakes, San Felipe Stakes, Sham Stakes, San Vicente Stakes and the Santa Catalina Stakes, all of which take place at Santa Anita Park.

The Winners

Some true champions have won the Santa Anita Derby down the years. Triple Crown hero Affirmed won the race in 1978. He remains the most recent winner of the Triple Crown after he defeated the game Alydar in all three races. Alydar was made favourite for Kentucky Derby but could not catch Affirmed in the home straight, going down by a length and a half. Affirmed made his own running in the Preakness and held off a long and persistent challenge from his great rival by a neck. In the Belmont, Affirmed set a slow pace with Alydar tracking his every move. The two raced neck and neck for over six furlongs in one of the greatest horse races of all time. Alydar edged narrowly ahead up the straight but jockey Steve Cauthen switched to a left-handed whip and Affirmed fought back to win by a nose.

Winning Colors (1988) went on to become an American Hall of Fame Champion and one of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby. The filly was an impressive winner in the Santa Anita Derby, defeating the colts by 7½ lengths. She beat an all-star field in Kentucky including Risen Star, Seeking the Gold, Forty Niner, Regal Classic and co-favourite Private Terms. Risen Star gained his revenge in the Belmont with Winning Colors back in third.

Sunday Silence (1989) After winning the Santa Anita Derby, he went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was voted American Horse of the Year.

A.P. Indy (1992) was the top-priced yearling of 1990 at $2.9 million but he lived up to his pedigree with a sensational racing and stud career. He was sired by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of Weekend Surprise, who was sired by another Triple Crown winner in Secretariat. As a three-year-old he won the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Belmont Stakes, the Grade II San Rafael Stakes and the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes. He was named the Eclipse Horse of the Year and the Champion three year old.

The Records

Pat Valenzuela became the youngest jockey to win the race at just 17 years of age on Codex in 1980. Jenine Sahadi became the first woman trainer to succeed in the Santa Anita Derby in 2000 and Jeff Mullins saddled three consecutive winners in the event from 2003-2005.

The fastest winning time in the race is 1:47.00 held by Lucky Debonair (1965), Sham (1973) and Indian Charlie (1998). Rex Ellsworth is the most successful owner in the history of the race with three victories, one more than Calumet Farm and C. Whitney. Jockeys Gary Stevens and Bill Shoemaker have incredible records in the race with nine and eight winners respectively. Laffit Pincay Jr. rode the winner on seven occasions. Bob Baffert has trained more winners than anyone else with six, the last of which was Midnight Interlude in 2011. D. Wayne Lukas has four winners to his credit.