Expert Pick of the Week: Santa Anita Derby

Jun 05, 2020 John Mucciolo/

A field of seven talented 3-year-olds will travel 1 1/8 miles in Saturday’s $400,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1). The cast is led by Bob Baffert’s unbeaten Authentic, who romped home a facile winner in both the San Felipe (G2) and Sham (G3) on the surface. But the standout sophomore is expected to receive more early pressure than he has in the past, which will set things up perfectly for my top selection. 

Honor A. P. has flashed ability since his unveiling as a juvenile in the summer, when he closed from last to be runner-up in a sprint at Del Mar. A dominant maiden win on the front end followed in his second performance, but he impressed me most with his runner-up result in the San Felipe while making his 2020 debut. Honor A. P. has trained swiftly in the interim and should thrive at the 9-furlong trip on Saturday. He is the Expert Pick of the Week. 
Trained by astute horseman John Shirreffs, the son of Honor Code is a flashy ridgling with a pedigree that screams class and stamina. Produced from two-time Grade 1 heroine Hollywood Story, the $850,000 yearling purchase possesses the gate speed to stay in touch early on in his races, combined with a long stride that can wear his rivals down in the stretch. 
In the Santa Anita Derby, regular pilot Mike Smith could settle the dark bay near midpack around the first turn behind an expected honest tempo, before making his move at the top of the lane. I expect my early Kentucky Derby (G1) selection to stride past his foes inside the final furlong en route to his initial graded tally. 
The aforementioned Authentic is full of class himself and will not be an easy foe to upend in the Santa Anita Derby. Trained by a living legend in Baffert, the Into Mischief colt could just be scratching the surface following a trio of facile wins to commence his career. 
Equipped with an abundance of speed, the bay will get a clean trip while breaking from the outside under Drayden Van Dyke. He will be a formidable foe on Saturday. 
Expert Pick for the Santa Anita Derby
An exacta with #6 Honor A. P. over #7 Authentic is the Best Bet of the Week. 
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