Kentucky Derby Prep Races: Santa Anita Derby Odds, Race Preview

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 8, 2022
Santa Anita odds

Messier has something the connections of Forbidden Kingdom would envy, a win over their horse at seven furlongs. But Forbidden Kingdom has something Messier’s connections want, a trip to the Kentucky Derby already assured. That’s the backdrop for the two titans in the 1 1–8-mile, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby Saturday from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The race concludes a thrilling trilogy of premier nationally-televised Kentucky Derby prep races, including the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. ET on NBC. The Derby trilogy highlights an exceptional afternoon of racing, accessible to nationwide bettors via TVG.

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Kentucky Derby Prep races: Santa Anita Derby odds

Here are odds to win the Santa Anita Derby.

HorseTrainerJockeyOdds
1. Happy JackDoug O'NeillAbel Cedillo20-1
2. ArmagnacTim YakteenDrayden Van Dyke20-1
3. Forbidden KingdomRichard MandellaJuan Hernandez6-5
4. MessierTim YakteenJohn Velazquez1-1
5. Win The DayDoug O'NeillUmberto Rispoli20-1
6. TaibaTim YakteenMike Smith4-1

The field

We will start to get a good idea of what Kentucky Derby odds will be after this weekend. Forbidden Kingdom has 50 qualifying points by virtue of a victory in the San Felipe and is assured a May 7 berth at Churchill Downs. Messier has the highest recorded Beyer Speed figure of 103 this year, but needs to finish at least second to ensure a Derby trip. He has no qualifying points and the 20th and final cutoff is 21 points, currently held by Rich Strike.

Qualifying point totals for this race are 100-40-20-10 for the top four finishers, so third or worse will do Messier no good.

Here is a look at the post positions from the draw.

Happy Jack (20-1): Distant third to Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe. Tried to be a pace presence at 25-1, was outrun, but nonetheless rallied for a distant third and slice of the trifecta. Nothing to suggest he can turn the tables.

Armagnac (20-1): Ran up the track sixth to Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe. Nothing to suggest a big improvement. Toss.

Forbidden Kingdom (6-5): Nice stretch from seven furlongs to 1 1-16 miles, winning the San Felipe as the frontrunner. Had a comfortable, but definite lead all the way throughout that race. Finished with 98 Beyer and effective stretch out. Will try to step up here. He likes the front end, along with Messier. Will be interesting to see if either one rates to avoid a speed duel.

4. Messier (1-1): Nice rebound from surprise loss to Slow Down Andy in the Los Alamos Futurity last year as he won for fun in the Robert E. Lewis. Backers will love his emphatic put away drive to defeat the field by double-digit lengths at 3-5. His time of 1:42.89 was slightly better than Forbidden Kingdom’s in the San Felipe. That earned him the circuit’s co-leading Beyer Speed figure of 103 along with Taiba (who did that at six furlongs in debut). Stalked Forbidden Kingdom and put him away handily at seven furlongs, although this is a new race and longer distance. Will be the horse to beat.

5. Win the Day (20-1): Liked that last win at a mile in the stalking fashion that could pay dividends here. Swept from last to first and won with authority at 9-1 odds. Yes, it was maiden special weights and this is a major step up, but would have something to say if this race fell apart up front.

6. Taiba (4-1): What’s this, a 103 Beyer Speed figure for a first-time starter? What’s this, Part 2, that the authors of the leading Beyers (Taiba and Messier) meet in the same PREP race? Wow.

Won the way a promising contender should, dismissing the field with emphasis for his debut race. He prevailed in six furlongs in 1:09.97 at 2-5. This is a no-lose step up for his connections, seeking part of an enlarged purse for his second race. Stretches to 1 1-8 miles and faces two of the hottest contenders on the circuit with not much expected of him. Good horse to watch, may still need one to be an elite 3-year-old. Or does he? Should he place second or higher, he’d reach the Derby in just his second race.

Betting Overview

The money is in the slam, if you want to make it.

  • I will go with Messier’s posh stretch out over that of Forbidden Kingdom’s gritty performance. Will bet him at even money odds or higher, but won’t go near any 4-5 or 3-5 prices.
  • Some bettors will place heavy money on a one-way exacta, reasoning that if they guess right on Messier and Forbidden Kingdom in the 1-2 slots, they may get $6 on a $2 exacta. A $50 slam returns a $100 profit. You can check the exacta prices right up until post time if that’s your philosophy.
  • Forbidden Kingdom wants the front and may get it uncontested. And then it’s a matter of whether Messier can run him down again.
  • If there’s an unexpected duel up front, either Taiba or Win the Day could sweep into the breech and complete the exacta.
  • Worth one small exacta with Messier and one of them in a box. Otherwise, this looks like a lightly-bet race and a good one to handicap for the Derby.

Good luck.

Road To Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

The top-20 healthy horses in the standings after all KY Derby prep races have completed will be eligible to enter the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

RankHorsePointsTrainer
1Epicenter
164Steven M. Asmussen
2Zandon114Chad Brown
3White Abarrio
112Saffie Joseph, Jr.
4Mo Donegal112Todd Pletcher
5Tiz the Bomb110Kenny McPeek
6Cyberknife100Brad Cox
7Crown Pride (JPN)100Koichi Shintani
8Taiba100Tim Yakteen
9Simplification
74Antonio Sano
10Smile Happy
70Kenny McPeek
11Classic Causway66Brian Lynch
12Tawny Port60Brad Cox
13Barber Road
58John Ortiz
14Un Ojo
54Anthony W. Dutrow
15Messier40Tim Yakteen
16Zozos40Brad Cox
17Summer Is Tomorrow40Bhupat Seemar
18Charge It40Todd Pletcher
19Happy Jack30Doug O'Neill
20Pioneer of Medina25Todd Pletcher
21In Due Time24Kelly Breen
22Ethereal Road22D. Wayne Lukas
23Rich Strike21Eric Reed
24Rattle N Roll20Kenny McPeek

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Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

View all posts by Dave Bontempo