Santa Anita: The Grade II, $200,000 Robert Lewis at 1 1/16 miles
#1 Little Jerry: Baltas colt impressed when rallying from far out of it in his debut over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park in November, then was beaten up in the GI CashCall there in December. Sire Candy Ride was a long-distance freak on the main track in his day, but with just four entered here, you wonder if he’s in simply to make the race go; even Seinfeld fans have to think he shouldn’t be in the ring against these.
#2 Flashback: Highly touted Baffert runner was rumored to be a good thing prior to his debut, and this son of Tapit didn’t disappoint, running off to an easy win going 7 furlongs at Hollywood in December. The waters get much deeper today, as not only does he tackle seasoned graded stakes foes off a layoff, but he’ll get two turns and he runs on conventional dirt for the first time as well. Of course, with all that being said, his talent is enormous and he should sit a dream trip either on or just off an expected soft pace, not to mention those graded stakes foes (stablemate Den’s Legacy and also He’s Had Enough) aren’t really burning any ink on the Derby top-10 list. The risk/reward really isn’t there and he does meet some hurdles, but expecting him to make it 2-for-2 today; onward and upward.
#3 Den’s Legacy: Baffert’s second runner has made a name for himself running in the money in some solid graded stakes races over the main track and enters off a big second to West Coast hotshot Goldencents in the local GIII Sham in January. Versatile colt should be close early, but you get the impression he’s been getting by with workmanlike performances while his stablemate brings a ton of sheer talent to the table; second-best today.
4# He’s Had Enough: O’Neill charge arguably should have won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November when he was an extremely troubled second, beaten a head, to then-undefeated champion Shanghai Bobby over the track and distance. Of course, he also had the length of the stretch to run by and couldn’t, and that wasn’t the fastest race ever run, so it’s not like he ran a hole in the wind. His Derby-winning connections will make him an underlay and he enters off a weak fifth in the CashCall, so unless he’s got about five to seven lengths of improvement in him, he’s not a factor here; underlaid and overmatched.
#3 Den’s Legacy
#4 He’s Had Enough