Santa Anita Derby looking crowded

Updated: March 31, 2011, 12:01 PM ET
By Steve Andersen | Daily Racing Form



ARCADIA, Calif. -- With or without Jaycito, the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9 is likely to have a large field.

As of Wednesday, there were 11 probable starters for the West Coast's leading prep for the Kentucky Derby, a list that tentatively includes Jaycito, the winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes last year and the runner-up in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in his 3-year-old debut on March 12.

Trainer Bob Baffert emphasized his position on Wednesday that Jaycito would start in the Santa Anita Derby or the $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct the same day, with a decision expected this weekend.

"I'm still contemplating what to do, whether to ship or not to ship," Baffert said. "The plane leaves Monday and I've got until then. If I run one, it will be Jaycito."

The list of probable starters include Anthony's Cross, Bench Points, Celestic Night, Comma to the Top, Indian Winter, Mr. Commons, Offlee Wild Boys, Premier Pegasus, Quail Hill, and Silver Medallion.

Not all of them are candidates for the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Peter Miller said that Comma to the Top, the winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December but fourth in two starts this year, would have difficulty with the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles.

Comma to the Top was beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe over 1 1-16 miles on March 12. Wednesday, Comma to the Top, who is owned by a partnership, worked a half-mile in 49.40 seconds at Hollywood Park.

"We're not going to the Kentucky Derby," Miller said. "We'll see what happens. I've discussed it with the owners and we're in the same mindset. I'm not on the Derby trail. I'm on the pre-Derby trail."

Quail Hill, third behind Anthony's Cross in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 12, and fifth in the San Felipe, worked five furlongs in 58.20 seconds on Tuesday, giving trainer David Hofmans a reason to consider the Santa Anita Derby.

"For $1 million, it's not that tough," he said. "We have no interest in going to the Kentucky Derby unless we win this thing."

Silver Medallion, who won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 12 in his last start, worked seven furlongs in 1:23.60 on Tuesday. Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, timed Silver Medallion galloping out a mile in 1:37. "He went fantastic and finished up very strongly," Blasi said.

Bejarano in mid-ban

Jockey Rafael Bejarano is in the midst of a three-day suspension that ends on Sunday.

The suspension began Thursday and ends on Saturday. Bejarano dropped an appeal in late March of a suspension for causing interference in the fifth race on Jan. 20. The suspension does not prohibit Bejarano from riding in designated races, or graded stakes. He is booked to ride Subsidized in Saturday's Grade 3 Las Flores Stakes.

Through Sunday, Bejarano was second in the jockey's standings with 73 wins, five fewer than leader Joel Rosario. Bejarano has won riding titles at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting in the last three years.

Whether he overtakes Rosario to retain the title this year depends partially on how much the riders travel before the meeting ends on April 17. Rosario is scheduled to ride at Oaklawn Park on April 15 and Keeneland on April 16, according to his agent, Ron Ebanks.

Las Flores attracts six entries

There were six fillies and mares nominated to Saturday's $100,000 Las Flores Stakes for female sprinters, and all six were entered on Wednesday.

The Grade 3 race is run over 6 1/2 furlongs. Baffert has two leading hopes in Gilden Gem and Mother Ruth, who were second and fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Stakes on Jan. 30.

Misremembered to get Borel

Misremembered, the winner of the 2010 Santa Anita Handicap and the Santana Mile on March 6, will be ridden by Calvin Borel in the $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park on 9, Baffert said.

Martin Garcia rode Misremembered in his recent races, but will ride Jaycito that day. Tuesday, Misremembered blazed six furlongs in 1:09.60 at Santa Anita.

Game On Dude, who won the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, worked a half-mile in 48 seconds at Hollywood Park on Tuesday, his first workout since the Big Cap. Game On Dude was a candidate for the $10 million Dubai World Cup last Saturday until an abscess in a foot canceled those plans.

Baffert said on Wednesday that he did not have a specific goal for Game On Dude, but the $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16 is a possibility. The Charles Town Classic could draw the first three finishers of the Big Cap, including Setsuko and Quindici Man.

"It's interesting," said Craig Lewis, the trainer of Quindici Man. "The first three finishers in the Santa Anita Handicap running in West Virginia. It's amazing."

Plum Pretty to Kentucky Oaks

Plum Pretty, who won the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks by 25 lengths last Sunday, will make her next start in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6, Baffert said.

Owned by Peachtree Stable, Plum Pretty won her first stakes in the Sunland Park Oaks, having finished third in the Santa Ynez Stakes and Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita earlier this year.

Plum Pretty disputed the early lead in the Sunland Park Oaks over 1 1/16 miles before taking the lead on the backstretch. She led by 10 lengths in the stretch and won comfortably over Paloma Mesa.