July 25, 2024

Medina Spirit tops 10-horse Santa Anita Derby

Medina Spirit
Medina Spirit (right), holds off Roman Centurian (left) and Hot Rod Charlie (middle) in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes © BENOIT PHOTO

Santa Anita Derby (G1) — Race 8 (6:30 p.m. ET)

Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) winner and San Felipe S. (G2) runner-up Medina Spirit will be the horse to beat in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1). He’s one of two in the 10-horse field for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who will be seeking his 10th Santa Anita Derby win.

The 1 1/8-mile race has produced 19 Kentucky Derby winners, and it’s a major qualifier awarding a combined 170 points to the top four finishers (100-40-20-10).

Medina Spirit appears to be training forwardly, recording a five-furlong bullet workout (:59) in preparation, and two-time Kentucky Derby winner John Velazquez will be in to guide the Florida-bred Protonico colt.

Baffert will also be represented by Defunded, who faces a serious class and distance check following a six-furlong maiden special weight victory on March 6. Mike Smith rides Dialed In gelding.

Dream Shake was outfinished by Medina Spirit in the latter stages of the March 6 San Felipe, winding up more than 10 lengths behind the now-sidelined Life Is Good in third, but the Peter Eurton-trained Twirling Candy colt was making only his second start. A sharp debut maiden scorer in early February, Dream Shake is eligible to show more after his initial stakes experience, and leading rider Flavien Prat picks up the mount.

Roman Centurian failed to make an impact when fourth in the San Felipe, but the impressive maiden scorer ran well when posting a head second in the Robert Lewis two starts back, edging third-placer Hot Rod Charlie by a nose. That rival came back to win the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), and Roman Centurian is a rebound candidate for Simon Callaghan on Saturday.

The Great One figures to be a pace factor from post 9 following a weakening fifth in the San Felipe. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt earned back-to-back 101 Brisnet Speed ratings for a nose second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and a 14-length maiden win. The son of Nyquist will try to show more with Abel Cedillo.

Rock Your World will try dirt after opening his career with a pair of turf wins, including a 2 1/4-length triumph in the Feb. 27 Pasadena S. Umberto Rispoli will be up for John Sadler. Sham S. (G3) third Parnelli adds blinkers following a disappointing fifth in the Robert Lewis.

Ottothelegend invades for Steve Asmussen after a convincing maiden special weight at Oaklawn Park in early March. The Uncle Mo colt relished the stretch out to two turns in his second career outing, and Mario Gutierrez will take over the reins. Law Professor is another last-out maiden winner trying stakes competition, graduating by a 2 1/2-length margin on March 5, and Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount for Michael McCarthy.

Expected longshot Back Ring Luck completes the lineup.