Santa Anita Derby Nominations Topped by Maymun, Imagination

March 29, 2024

Maymun after his allowance win Feb. 11 at Santa Anita (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— Unbeaten Maymun and GII San Felipe winner Imagination, both trained by Bob Baffert, are among 15 3-year-olds nominated to next Saturday’s GI, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Maymun would be making his stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby. Most recently, the Frosted colt improved to 2-for-2 when edging Imagination by a neck in a first-level allowance going a mile here Feb. 11. Prior to that effort, Maymun aired by 7 ½ lengths in a 6 ½-furlong maiden heat here Jan. 20. Both wins came with Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez in the irons.

Following his narrow loss to Maymun, Imagination made amends with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe March 3. The Into Mischief colt won the San Felipe by a head over stablemate Wine Me Up, who is also nominated to the Santa Anita Derby for Baffert.

On Friday, Imagination worked five furlongs in 1:00.00. It was the fifth-fastest of 96 works at the distance.

Baffert’s third nominee is Wynstock. The Solomini colt won the GII Los Alamitos Futurity in December but came back to finish last in the GIII Southwest on a muddy track Feb. 3 at Oaklawn Park. On Friday, Wynstock fired a bullet when working four furlongs from the gate in 46.00 seconds. It was the fastest of 113 works at the distance.

Looming a major threat to the potential Baffert triumvirate is Stronghold for trainer Phil D’Amato. Owned by Eric M. Waller and Sharon Waller, the Ghostzapper colt exits a win in the GIII Sunland Derby Feb. 18. Prior to that breakout victory, Stronghold ended last year with consecutive runner-up efforts in the Los Alamitos Futurity and GIII Bob Hope going seven furlongs at Del Mar.

Other notable nominees expected to run include Tapalo for trainer John Sadler and Tessuto for trainer George Papaprodromou.

Tapalo, a ridgling by Tapiture for Hronis Racing, broke his maiden going seven furlongs on dirt here Jan. 12. He then came back to finish second in the El Camino Real Derby on synthetic at Golden Gate Feb. 10. The winner of the El Camino Real Derby, Endlessly, came back to win last weekend’s GIII Jeff Ruby Stakes on synthetic at Turfway Park.

Tessuto breaks his maiden Feb. 25 at Santa Anita (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Tessuto exits a comfortable 2 ½ -length maiden win going a mile here Feb. 25. It was the first time racing around two turns. On Friday, the son of Munnings worked five furlongs in 1:00.20. He is owned by Kretz Racing.

Trainer Doug O’Neill is considering running E.J. Won the Cup, who made it two straight wins when taking the 1 1/16-mile Turf Paradise Derby March 14. The Omaha Beach colt is campaigned by Superfecta King Stable.

There is also one potential out-of-state invader among the nominees, according to the Santa Anita racing office. Trainer Danny Gargan nominated New York-based Society Man, who exits a three-length maiden win going a mile on a muddy track at Aqueduct March 9. The Good Magic gelding tried the GIII Withers at 1 1/8 miles prior to his maiden win and finished eighth.

Entries for the 87th Santa Anita Derby will be taken on Wednesday. Qualifying points for the 150th Kentucky Derby on May 4 will be awarded to eligible horses who finish in the top five. Points are paid on a scale of 100-50-25-15-10.

@jonathanstettin @bbopjz Fantastic writing, thoroughly enjoyable read.

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