Santa Anita Derby Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues April 6 with the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1), a Championship Series race offering 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the top-four finishers. A compact field of six offers top quality, as leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender and 2018 champion two-year-old Game Winner makes his final Derby prep as the Santa Anita Derby morning-line favorite.

1   Roadster   M. Smith   5-2
2   More Ice   G. Franco   30-1
3   Nolo Contesto   J. Alamo   6-1
4   Synthesis   R. Bejarano   30-1
5   Instagrand   F. Prat   3-1
6   Game Winner   J. Rosario   4-5

The 1 18-mile Santa Anita Derby produced last year’s Kentucky Derby winner when Justify swept through to win both races on his way to a remarkable Triple Crown-winning campaign.

Game Winner has nothing to prove as he’s in the Kentucky Derby field already with four wins in five starts following his second-place finish in the Rebel (G2) last month. He won over this track last September in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) prior to his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) win. Trainer Bob Baffert is looking for conditioning from his champion colt and to assist his stablemate Roadster to get into the Derby field.

Baffert is extremely high on Roadster, who finished third as the favorite behind Game Winner last fall in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). The galloping gray was then sidelined with injury before returning March 1 to win an allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita Park.Tons of upside and a value play as Roadster is talented and plenty capable as he moves forward.

Instagrand is two-for-three after finishing third in the Gotham Stakes (G3) last month in his route debut. That race had a brutally fast pace and Instagram was coming off a seven-month break and still managed to finish close to the winner, Haikal. Instagrand needed that race, and two huge recent works suggests the colt is ready to run big as he moves forward.

Nolo Contesto ran well in losing to Roadster last out following a 60-day layoff. He also beat Omaha Beach previously, who defeated Game Winner by a nose last out in the Rebel. Not likely to beat the three best in this race.

A big day of racing on Saturday, April 6, includes seven stakes races at Santa Anita. The $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) are featured with the headliner Race 8 Santa Anita Derby, which has a post time of 6:30 p.m. (ET).

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