Gormley (outside) edges American Anthem in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita – © Benoit Photo
By Ed Golden, Santa Anita Publicity
Headed by a quartet from the Doug O’Neill barn, as many as 13 three-year-olds are candidates for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 8.
Among the “Baker’s Dozen” is Battalion Runner, a $700,000 son of Unbridled’s Song trained by Todd Pletcher for the St. Elias Stable. The gray colt was second in his debut at Belmont Park last June 3, but was a runaway maiden allowance winner by nearly nine lengths over seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park Dec. 31, then wired six rivals going 1 1/16 miles at the Florida track, reaching the finish 1 ¼ lengths in front as the favorite at 20 cents on the dollar.
O’Neill, who won the Santa Anita Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Goldencents in 2103, plans to enter four in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6: Iliad (Flavien Prat); Milton Freewater (Tiago Pereira); So Conflated (Mario Gutierrez); and Term of Art (Tyler Baze).
Others possible for the 80th edition of the Santa Anita Derby include American Anthem, Battle of Midway, Gormley, Reach the World, Kimbear, Sorry Erik, Sonneteer and Midnight Pleasure.
During a span covering more than eight decades, the Santa Anita Derby has been won by titans of the American turf such as Stagehand (1938), On Trust (1947), Your Host (1950), Hill Gail (1952), Determine (1954), Swaps (1955), Silky Sullivan (1958), Silver Spoon (1959), Candy Spots (1963), Hill Rise (1964), Lucky Debonair (1965), Boldnesian (1966), Majestic Prince (1969), Sham (1973), Affirmed (1978), Snow Chief (1986), Winning Colors (1988), Sunday Silence (1989), A.P. Indy (1992), Point Given (2001) and California Chrome (2014).
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