Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, gallops past Bolt d’Oro, left, with jockey Javier Castellano, during the Santa Anita Derby horse race at Santa Anita on Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Arcadia, Calif. Justify won the race, and Bolt d’Oro came in second. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
- Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby is the top Kentucky Derby prep race on the West Coast
- Messier and Forbidden Kingdom seek to solidify their spots as Run for the Roses favorites
- Can the two favorites be beaten? Let’s examine the whole field
Seventeen times the Kentucky Derby winner has participated in the Santa Anita Derby. Of those 17, 10 times the winner of the race has gone on to earn the roses, and on seven occasions a horse who did not win in SoCal ended up in the Louisville winner’s circle.
While Bob Baffert, who has won the race a record eight times, is currently suspended, his horses are under the care of Tim Yakteen. Because Baffert’s horses were not allowed to earn Derby qualifying points when he was named as their trainer, there is no margin for error on Saturday if Messier, Taiba, or Armagnac are going to earn a trip to Churchill Downs.
Messier and Forbidden Kingdom are among the favorites in our updated Kentucky Derby odds. If you want to lock in futures value, now is the time if one of the Santa Anita Derby contenders is your horse of choice.
Let’s discuss the two big favorites, and a few other contenders in this short but high-end field in California.
2022 Santa Anita Derby Odds
|Win The Day||+2000|
Odds as of April 7
It seems like the weather is always nice at Santa Anita. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 80’s on Saturday with little chance of rain. Post time is slated for 5:30 pm ET with television coverage provided by NBC.
The Santa Anita Derby is a mile-and-an-eighth test on the main track. In 2018 Justify won the race before sweeping the Triple Crown. Last year Medina Spirit was second in the Santa Anita Derby before finishing first at the Kentucky Derby. He eventually was disqualified from the Run for the Roses after testing positive for a banned substance, and that is why Baffert is currently suspended. Two years ago Authentic won the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby under the direction of Baffert.
With the Kentucky Derby a month away, and the major preps concluding this weekend, it is a good time to brush up on some Horse Betting 101. You want to be fully up to speed as the Triple Crown season arrives.
Two-Horse Race With Messier and Forbidden Kingdom?
At least from a betting standpoint, two of the six horses are going to get all the attention on Saturday. Canadian bred Messier, who has three wins and two seconds in five career starts, and Forbidden Kingdom, the son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who also has three wins in five tries.
The two favorites ran against each other in November’s Bob Hope Stakes.
Messier won the only head-to-head meeting decisively, and since then finished second in the Los Alamitos Futurity before romping in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
As for Forbidden Kingdom, he has won both of his races in 2022 easily.
It is unclear how strong Messier and Forbidden Kingdom’s level of competition has been thus far, but both are in terrific form heading into Saturday’s showdown. Because this is Messier’s first race without Baffert, he needs to finish first or second to earn enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Forbidden Kingdom already has the necessary points if he wants to compete in Louisville.
If Not the Favorites then Who?
The Santa Anita Derby will be just the second career race for Taiba. Going from a maiden special weight to a graded stakes race is ambitious, but talent is clearly present.
An expensive son of Gun Runner, hopes are high for Taiba. That said, this is a difficult spot to try him.
Each of the other three entrants have one career win. Win the Day needed three starts to beat maidens, while Happy Jack and Armagnac have not been overly competitive with the favorites in this race
Santa Anita Derby Best Bet
There are really only three viable choices, and +400 doesn’t seem high enough on Taiba. On paper, he is super talented, but we just don’t have enough evidence to be sure.
Neither of the two favorites has beaten huge fields of top-notch horses, but Forbidden Kingdom has taken on the tougher foes this year. He has been very impressive and has given no reason to bet against him.
Pick: Forbidden Kingdom (+120)
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.