Santa Anita Derby Win Would Put Baffert In Tie With Lukas For Most North American Grade 1 Victories

History lies in wait for Bob Baffert should he win Saturday’s Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, the West Coast‘s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

A victory by either favorite Medina Spirit or longshot Defunded, a recent maiden sprint winner, would add to the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer’s record of nine Santa Anita Derby victories that started with California-bred Cavonnier in 1996 and culminating thus far with Roadster in 2019.

A win would also give Baffert his 219th Grade 1 stakes triumph, tying him with fellow Hall of Fame member D. Wayne Lukas for most Grade 1 victories in the United States and Canada since Jan. 1, 1976, through March 26, 2021.

The winning horse will earn 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, second through fourth 40, 20 and 10, respectively.

Baffert and Medina Spirit’s owner, Amr Zedan, obviously have a vested interest in the race, as does private clocker Gary Young, the bloodstock agent who recommended Zedan buy the son of Protonico for the bargain price of $35,000.

To date the colt has earned nearly five times that amount and a victory in Saturday’s $750,000 race, offering $450,000 to the winner, would be worth almost 13 times his purchase price.

Young is just back from the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where he purchased a first-crop Gun Runner colt for Zedan at $1.7 million, the sale’s second-highest price.

A clocker since he was 18 and an agent for more than 30 years, the 59-year-old Young acknowledges Medina Spirit is likely to face speed both inside and outside from his No. seven post position in a field of 10 going a mile and an eighth, including from John Shirreffs trainee Parnelli who adds blinkers, drew post position four and has noted speed rider Edwin Maldonado aboard for the first time, surefire indicators the horse will not be taken back early.

“We wanted our horse to have a target,” Young said. “He’s trained really well since his last race (second by eight lengths behind undefeated but sidelined stablemate Life Is Good in the San Felipe Stakes March 6).

“In many ways it might look like he was a well-beaten second but when you consider he entrapped in that race … we’re not saying he would have beaten Life Is Good, but I think it was a pretty gallant effort to run second under those conditions.”

It was discovered after the San Felipe that Medina Spirit had suffered a slightly entrapped epiglottis, necessitating minor throat surgery. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, an entrapped epiglottis is “a condition in which the thin membrane lying below the epiglottis moves up and covers the epiglottis. The abnormality may obstruct breathing.”

Added Young: “We respect the competition, but if he’s getting his air better this time, it’s got to be a plus.

“I think I speak for Bob and Mr. Zedan when I say he’s going to be pretty tough in this race.”

The Runhappy Santa Anita Derby is race eight of 12 with a 12 noon first post time. It will be broadcast live on NBCSN, with approximate post time 4:15 p.m. Pacific.

The local weather forecast is ideal, sunny skies with a high of 82 degrees.

The field for the 84th running of the race: Roman Centurian, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; Dream Shake, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Rock Your World, Umberto Rispoli, 4-1; Parnelli, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Back Ring Luck, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Ottothelegend, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; Medina Spirit, John Velazquez, 5-2; Law Professor, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1; The Great One, Abel Cedillo, 8-1; and Defunded, Mike Smith, 8-1.

The Runhappy Santa Anita Derby headlines six stakes on Saturday, four of them graded and two showcasing California-bred or sired runners.

Purses on Saturday’s blockbuster program total $2,196,000, the six stakes alone offering a combined $1,750,000.

The post Santa Anita Derby Win Would Put Baffert In Tie With Lukas For Most North American Grade 1 Victories appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.