2019 Santa Anita Derby Analysis

April 5, 2019

Our own Geo Sette is back again with his insight and well-thought out 2019 Santa Anita Derby analysis.

Geo Sette, hard at work as always

 Santa Anita Race # 8- The $1,000,000.00 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Estimated Post time 6:30PM EST.

As I begin to type out my analysis for this big race, I cannot help myself for being somewhat melancholy due to all that has happened at this track over the past few months.

Just a few days ago the track, located in Arcadia, California, experienced the 23rd equine fatality since December 26th, and this only the 3rd day after the track reopened after closing to investigate the previous fatalities.

So now with the three-year old championship season upon us, owners, trainers and horsemen alike have this unfortunate collection of incidents hanging over their heads. The veterinarians and trainers still have much to be concerned about,

Typically, there’s always room for tragedy, the sport at times can be violent, that can happen when several 1200-pound animals are running at a pace that dissolves a mile in just a few seconds more than a minute thirty seconds, an occupational hazard; if you will.

Anyway, the season is here, and the show goes on. This Santa Anita Derby is showcasing some of the best three-year old’s in training.  It’s only a field of 6 and I have applied several hours of film study and handicapping which resulted in this precise predicted order of finish. It’s one of those races where a bettor can take a big stab to their liking if they are feeling it, so I’m hoping the information I am providing will help you through the process to make an informed decision for yourself.

# 6 Game Winner  

After a thorough reconciliation of numerous factors, it was simply too hard to go against this colt. He was the 2018 two-year old champ winning his debut then back to back to back Grade One victories at different tracks, each time finishing with a fury and overcoming being bumped around on two separate occasions. He took 5 months off & came back running in the grade 2 Rebel but lost by a nose. It was the slimmest of margins after a thrilling stretch run. I watched every one of his races on video, did several pauses in stride, and conclude, that with his only loss, he could have run his best race.  He’s been working smartly since and seems to be primed for a big race. There’s no doubt Bob Baffert and his barn have him ready. Joel Rosario is back in the silks, and they simply have him to beat. The only measure of concern I have is that he’s facing a few tough horses who are steadily improving, one of them being a stablemate.

If he runs his race, he beats this field and he looms to be the Kentucky Derby favorite as they Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

# 5 Instagrand    

He, like my top choice ran brilliantly as a two-year old, winning his only two starts in dominant fashion by greater than 10 lengths.  He took 6 months off and came back running in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct where he was aggressively backed at the windows but disappointed finishing 3rd. It was his first try stretching out from his sprinting ways, that time going a mile and now he tries this 9-furlong distance. I trust Jerry Hollendorfer and his barn with the rider switch to the capable hands of Flavien Prat, a product of France who has won numerous big races in his career.  I believe he had an excuse in the Gotham, the pace was simply sizzling, so now with that race under his belt, this colt who was purchased at the huge price of $1,200,000 may be Game Winners top menace as they come charging down the stretch.

Watch the board, I’m feeling he will get some serious action.

# 1 Roadster

This gray draws the rail and comes into the race with high regard from the Bob Baffert barn. He’s a stablemate to my top choice and is also working well coming into this race. He’ll be ridden again by the world class and skillful Mike Smith. He should be in the picture most of the way. He’s got impressive tactical speed and his bloodlines lend itself to get the needed distance. An obvious contender based on the connections. He is surely capable of running a big race in this spot, but I’m siding with him getting 3rd money in what can prove to be a stone-cold triple paying in the area of $20 on a $2 ticket.

Hey that’s 10-1, not too shabby.

# 3 Nolo Contesto

This son of Pioneerof the Nile by Empire Maker is bred to be a winner and comes into this race with two nice efforts going a mile on this same Santa Anita soil.  I like his rider Joe Talamo, and his trainer John Sadler also knows how to win but he’s facing his toughest task yet, going against seasoned Grade One horses which I cannot endorse him beating.

In my opinion he’s likely to finish 4th, maybe third if one of my top 3 choices falter.

# 4 Synthesis   

He’s the most experienced horse in the race and will be ridden by a solid jockey in Raphael Bejarano, but he’s only 1 for 9 lifetime, with his only win coming when he broke his maiden racing at Keeneland.  His race times have been much slower than his opponents. I am expecting him to go off at long odds, perhaps as high as 50-1, and he would be a shocker if he won. I’m passing completely on that.

The only consideration I’d give him would be to perhaps fill your bottom gimmicks or superfecta wheels.

# 2 More Ice   

My choice to finish last in this field of 6. He does have two victories, but they came on the lawn and against much cheaper.  He would be the shocker of shockers if he beat this field. I will not use him on any tickets.

If you’re backing him, you’ll need more prayers, for More Ice.

Well, there you have it, wishing you an enjoyable day at the races, and the best of luck over the weekend. Additionally, please take the time to read my published analysis on the Wood Memorial racing from Aqueduct, and your comments are always appreciated.

~Geo Sette

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