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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Connections Comment on SA Derby Chances


Jockeys and other connections assess how things are going for them and their horses a couple of days before the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. And Jon White discusses how he made the morning line.

On Premier Pegasus, the 8-5 favorite, drawing post 8: “The post is good,” jockey Alonso Quinonez said. “It’s always better when you’re on the outside. But when you’ve got speed, it doesn’t really matter. He should be as good or better Saturday than he was coming into the San Felipe. The extra 16th of a mile can only help him.”

Martin Garcia on Jaycito, the 4-1 second choice: “He’s been training a lot better (than he did before the San Felipe), and like I’ve said, he needed that race. He’s going to be tough on Saturday, and I think he’s going to be closer (to the pace). I’ve been working him, and he’s been training super-good.”

On Jaycito's outside post; “You can’t change it,” Bob Baffert said.

On 9-2 third choice Silver Medallion: “We’re happy with his post, we’re happy with everything," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who said Steve Asmussen would be on hand for the race. “The horse just has to run on the dirt like he did at Golden Gate (winning the El Camino Real Derby on synthetic Tapeta). The horse has trained well and the post is somewhere where I wanted him to be, four through nine . . . We just have to run our race and have a clean trip.”

Mike Smith on Mr. Commons at 12-1: “I wouldn’t think a mile and an eighth would be a problem for him.  He’s got a lot of talent, although he might be a bit against it as far as seasoning, but he’s coming into the race the right way, because he’s really starting to train well right now. He’s ready to run a good one. Hopefully, it will be good enough. “The race is crucial for him in that he needs graded earnings, so we’re going to go out there and give it our best.”

Anthony’s Cross, who hasn’t raced since his nose victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 12: “I just wanted three prep races before I go to the (Kentucky) Derby if I’m good enough to get there,” trainer Eoin Harty said. “This would be his third prep race . . . He’s doing good, he’s very fit and he worked five-eighths Monday (in :59.80 at Hollywood Park). He won’t get tired.”   

Trainer Tim Yakteen on Bench Points, beaten nine lengths by Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe: “Well, it will be his second time routing, and I think that’s going to help us out."

Corey Nakatani, aboard Comma to the Top: “He’s got such a natural high cruising speed and the other day (in the San Felipe), it was kind of a suicidal pace, so I opted to take back just a tad off of them, but it was still too fast. He came out of the race in good order. He worked Monday, and we’ll go from there. As far is the track right now, it comes down to this: good horses are going to run fast on it, and slow horses will run slow on it. But the surface is safe, and that’s the main thing.”

White on the Morning Line

“When it looked like the Santa Anita Derby might have an eight-horse field without Jaycito, I had planned to make Premier Pegasus a 6-5 favorite,” oddsmaker Jon White said. “But then the situation changed when the Santa Anita Derby field grew to 11 entrants and when (Baffert elected to enter Jaycito. Consequently, I did raise Premier Pegasus to 8-5.

“As I’ve said before, Premier Pegasus was so dominant in the San Felipe that I don’t think there is any question he will be a strong Santa Anita Derby favorite,” White said, “especially considering the San Felipe had what is considered to have been the best field of all the graded stakes races for 3-year-olds in California this year.”

White said he used the final odds for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that closed last Sunday for some guidance in making the morning line for the Santa Anita Derby.

“I thought it could be quite helpful to take into consideration the final prices for the five Santa Anita Derby horses included among the single betting interests in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager,” White said. “I think those prices are meaningful vis-a-vis the Santa Anita Derby because they are based on actual money wagered, though one must also keep in mind people were betting on the Kentucky Derby and not the Santa Anita Derby. Nevertheless, those prices would seem to give us a pretty good idea of how the public currently perceives those particular five horses.”

Uncle Mo closed as the 3-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, with Grade I Florida Derby winner Dialed In the second choice at 5-1. Premier Pegasus was 9-1, with Jaycito closing at 20-1, Silver Medallion at 41-1, Anthony’s Cross at 43-1 and Mr. Commons at 96-1.

“I had considered making Silver Medallion the second favorite or co-second favorite with Jaycito for the Santa Anita Derby,” White said. “But after seeing those final prices in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, I was swayed to make Jaycito the second favorite at 4-1, with Silver Medallion the third choice at 9-2 and Anthony’s Cross at 6-1. I had planned to make Jaycito 7-2 but raised him a notch to 4-1 after he drew the outside post.

“Silver Medallion and Anthony’s Cross are the only Santa Anita Derby entrants to already have won at a mile and an eighth. Silver Medallion is a smaller price than Anthony’s Cross because, among other things, Silver Medallion earned a good Beyer Speed Figure of 94 in the El Camino Real Derby and had a terrific seven-furlong workout on the dirt in 1:23 3/5 here last week. That tied Silver Medallion with Sway Away for the fastest seven-furlong drill here since opening day.

“When it appeared to be an eight-horse Santa Anita Derby field without Jaycito, I had Mr. Commons 6-1 on my preliminary line. But the Kentucky Derby Future wager influenced me quite a bit in terms of his price for the Santa Anita Derby. I raised Mr. Commons to 12-1 after I saw his future wager price was so huge at 96-1.

“Some people might wonder about giving much credence to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager when making odds for the Santa Anita Derby, because the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a national wager. But these days, because of simulcast wagering and computer wagering, the Santa Anita Derby also really is a national wager, not just a Santa Anita wager. So the Kentucky Derby Future Wager actually might be a good indication of how people are going to bet the Santa Anita Derby.”

--Edited track notes

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