$400k Runhappy Santa Anita Derby

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By Tom Quigley

$400,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park

Race 8 (Saturday, June 6, 2020: 7:00 p.m./ET; 4:00 p.m./PT)
One mile and one eighth on the main track (three-year-olds)

Grade I Glory plus valuable Kentucky Derby (G1) points are on the line in the feature race at Santa Anita this Saturday: the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) for three-year-olds routing nine panels. Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race a record nine times and looks for a tenth victory with morning line favorite #7 AUTHENTIC. Six others look to play spoiler, so let’s begin our analysis with the rail post position:

#1 FRIAR’S ROAD remains a maiden after three career starts, including most recently when finishing second in a maiden special weight at Oaklawn Park traveling this nine-furlong distance while encountering some traffic trouble. One of two entrants for the Michael McCarthy barn, he’ll go off as the higher price of the two.

#2 RUSHIE is the other Michael McCarthy entrant. A colt by LIAM’S MAP, this guy went off favored in a May 2 allowance race at Oaklawn Park and won the mile-and-a-sixteenth contest by a length-and-a-half. Makes his stakes debut in this spot for McCarthy, who employs top Santa Anita pilot Flavien Prat to navigate (who rode FRIAR’S ROAD in his last two starts).

#3 SHOOTER’S SHOOT easily defeated #1 FRIAR’S ROAD in a maiden special weight race two starts ago at Santa Anita and returned to score a determined allowance win against well regarded Midwest colt BLACKBERRY WINE on April 11 at Oaklawn Park. Has never faced talent like #6 HONOR A.P. or #7 AUTHENTIC before, so this will surely be the acid test for him.

#4 ANNEAU D’OR ran the best race of his life over the Santa Anita main track last year when coming up a head short in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). In two starts this year as a three-year-old, this well-bred son of MEDAGLIA D’ORO finished off the board while finishing well behind the winner in the Risen Star (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). In conclusion, he may fancy the main track at Santa Anita, but he’ll need to improve based off his most recent form.

#5 AZUL COAST hasn’t been seen since a gutsy win in the El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields in mid-February. He is the ‘other’ Bob Baffert entrant in the race, though, as he finished almost eight lengths behind stablemate #7 AUTHENTIC in the Sham Stakes (G3) in January. He may have gotten better since then, but he’s got plenty of ground to make up on his barn buddy.

#6 HONOR A.P. makes his second start off a four-and-a-half month layoff for trainer John Shirreffs after a runner up effort behind #7 AUTHENTIC in the San Felipe (G2). He has always been well regarded and boasts strong pedigree to back up his talent. Shirreffs has indicated this colt will be more cranked up for his second start off the break. Major contendor.  

#7 AUTHENTIC has never lost in three lifetime starts. Already a two time stakes winner over this track, the son of INTO MISCHIEF should be tabbed as the one to run down in the stretch. Drayden Van Dyke retains the mount for the Baffert barn and they win at a strong 28% clip together.

SELECTIONS

1. #6 HONOR A.P. – Should enjoy extra distance.
2. #7 AUTHENTIC - Impossible to knock.
3. #2 RUSHIE - Can pick up the pieces late.

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY-#3 SHOOTERS SHOOT -  Best of the rest.

WAGERING STRATEGY
I’ll put all my eggs in one basket and make a straight win bet on my top choice.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget) $50 Win: #6 HONOR A.P.

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