The $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) proved popular at the entry box, attracting a field of 13 Kentucky Derby hopefuls, and Iliad has been installed as a slight 7-2 morning line favorite. He’s one of four entrants from trainer Doug O’Neill.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the 1 1/8-mile race awards points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.
Iliad exits a runner-up effort to the sidelined Mastery in the March 11 San Felipe (G2). A convincing winner of the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2) two back, the Ghostzapper ridgling likes to race up close with jockey Flavien Prat and breaks from post 9.
O’Neill will also send out Term of Art, who rallied for third in the San Felipe; Conflated, winner of the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields but most recently a disappointing sixth in the Gotham (G3); and Milton Freewater, who appears to fit better at the state-bred stakes level.
American Anthem never fired after a slow start in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park three weeks ago, checking in 10th as the 8-5 favorite, and looks to rebound for Bob Baffert. A head second in the Sham (G3) two back, the Bodemeister colt picks up Martin Garcia and is one of three runners listed at 5-1. Mike Smith departs American Anthem for another Baffert trainee, Reach the World, who is also listed at 5-1 in his stakes debut. The Hall of Fame trainer will also be represented by maiden winner Irish Freedom.
John Shirreffs has a pair of graded winners in Gormley and Royal Mo. Gormley captured the FrontRunner (G1) last fall and opened 2017 with a game tally in the Sham, but he will be trying to bounce back after weakening to be a well-beaten fourth in the San Felipe. The early 9-2 second choice keeps Victor Espinoza. Stablemate Royal Mo captured the Sham (G3) two back but will try to show more after a ninth in the Rebel. He adds Gary Stevens.
Battle of Midway edged Reach the World by a neck in a March 9 entry-level allowance at Santa Anita and Grade 2-placed colt merits respect for Jerry Hollendorfer. The Smart Strike colt is 5-1 with Corey Nakatani.
Last-out maiden scorers Kimbear and Comma Sister, and recent allowance third Midnight Pleasure complete the line-up.