Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita: The GI, $400,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100-40-20-10)

by Brian Nadeau

Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. Follow him on Twitter here.

Authentic and Drayden Van Dyke. Benoit photo

#1 Friar’s Road (20-1): Well-bred maiden added blinkers and was a much-improved second over this trip at Oaklawn Park in early May, albeit in an MSW, so you know he’s got to pick up the pace here. On the plus side, McCarthy is as patient as they come, so he wouldn’t enter this son of Quality Road if he felt he wouldn’t make a good show of it, and he was second to fellow rival Shooters Shoot two-back, so he seems to have a hint of ability. There’s also still plenty of upside here, and a big price, so even though it’s quite obvious that he’s taking on a monumental task, he could still get a piece of this; could sneak into the number.

#2 Rushie (8-1): McCarthy’s second is a lot more respected here, as he has a win over the local oval and looked good beating OP AOC foes from a tough draw on the same day ‘Road was second, so if nothing else, he enters his first stakes try on the upswing. Bargain 70k son of Liam’s Map has the tactical speed to be on or just off the pace, though chasing a talented leader and an odds-on favorite won’t help him in deep stretch; figures to come unglued in the lane.

#3 Shooters Shoot (8-1): Aforementioned colt figures as the speed of the speed here, and he could possibly be loose, as he’s motored early in three straight and now stretches out a furlong farther than he’s ever run off a game and dueling AOC win at OP in early May. Son of sprinter Competitive Edge is likely stretching his rubber band mighty thin today for Eurton, especially since odds-on favorite Authentic to his outside won’t give him a breather the entire way, which doesn’t bode well for his chances in the lane; know him early, not sure about late.

#4 Anneau d’Or (15-1): Son of Medaglia d’Oro was potentially a head away from a 2-year-old championship when second here in the BC Juvenile in November, and he followed that up with a second, beaten just a neck, in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity in December, but things have not gone smoothly since, as he’s bombed in two straight, including a total no-show when ninth at even-money in his 3-year-old debut in Fair Grounds’ second division of the GII Risen Star in February. It’s good to see Wright forge on, though, and, if nothing else, the fifth to Charlatan in last month’s GI Arkansas Derby at OP was a step in the right direction, in a race where he had no chance with his running style. And today the pace should be better for him, plus, other than the top two, there’s no one to fear here, and he’s worked well since heading to Hot Springs, and now he (finally) gets to ship in a van and not on a plane, so there are a few reasons to think he improves once again; odds-on to complete a very chalky tri.

#5 Azul Coast (15-1): The first of two for Baffert could be 40 times the price of his stablemate Authentic, who he was a distant second to in the local GIII Sham in January. Pricey son of Super Saver went north to win the El Camino Real Derby over the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields last time, at this trip, too, but a repeat of that performance might get him sixth here, so he’s in mighty deep; tough to tout.

#6 Honor A.P. (9-5): Exciting and lightly raced son of Honor Code was a comeback second to Authentic in the local GII San Felipe in March in a race he was way up against it in with the race flow, and considering he was off an October layoff, too, yet there he was in the lane making the loose winning favorite have to dig in a bit late in what was a very impressive return. Stalker should like the added ground here, and Shirreffs has seemingly amped things up in the morning since his return, so he’s likely going to cut into that 2-length deficit of last time. Still, this is only his second start of the year, and there’s a lot bigger Derby to aim for down the road, so even though he should definitely be closer today and is clearly the main danger, he’s also probably got to wait for the first Saturday in September, not June, to beat the chalk; second-best.

#7 Authentic (4-5): Undefeated Into Mischief colt adds to Baffert’s array of riches and is clearly the best of the West Coast runners (that have raced in the local stakes division), as he was a comprehensive winner of the San Felipe while showing he’s for real, too, after drubbing no one of any consequence in the Sham. Versatile sort has wired in his last two but settled a bit in his debut win, and that’s likely a strategy he’ll use here, especially from this perfect draw, which will allow Van Dyke to gauge the pace from the outside and proceed accordingly. He does stretch out an additional half-furlong today, and the recency edge he had last time on ‘A.P. is gone, not to mention that that colt figures to like this trip a bit more, but while the gap figures to shrink a bit, there’s little doubt that he’s still getting all the best of it; imposing.


#7 Authentic

#6 Honor A.P.

#4 Anneau d’Or

#1 Friar’s Road


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