The 2013 Santa Anita Derby is the West Coast's big horse racing showcase ahead of next month's Kentucky Derby. This one and one-eighth mile race in Arcadia, California between strong three-year-old thoroughbreds can be a good indicator to determine which horse might win at Churchill Downs.
Renowned trainer Bob Baffert essentially has a monopoly on this impending race at Santa Anita Park, as three of his horses have outstanding chances to emerge victorious.
Here is a breakdown of the formidable trio that is likely to account for two of the top three positions on Saturday evening.
Note: Odds obtained from SportingNews.com.
Flashback (6-5 )
This dominant horse is the clear-cut favorite to win—especially after an injury to Hear the Ghost, as reported by Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
As Aram Tolegian of the Daily Bulletin points out, Hear the Ghost handed Flashback his lone defeat at the San Felipe Stakes on March 9.
Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times noted that Flashback's previous jockey, Julien Leparoux, essentially got too greedy and didn't pace the thoroughbred properly down the stretch at that event. Such a strategy allowed Hear the Ghost to fly to the front from fifth place.
Flashback has the best odds of giving Baffert his seventh win at Santa Anita Park—and possibly his fourth triumph in the Race for the Roses. Starting in the No. 1 slot is fitting for Flashback, as the horse probably will be in that same position at the finish line.
That is, if new jockey Garrett Gomez doesn't push Flashback too much and wear him out before the final portion of the race.
Power Broker (4-1)
With only one victory in five previous starts, it is hard to see Power Broker as the horse to truly challenge Flashback. Having said that, the Graded Stakes Winner is jockeyed by Rafael Bejarano, who was the United States Champion Jockey with 455 wins in 2004.
This will mark Power Broker's first competitive race since last November, as Bloodhorse.com alludes to. That saw the thoroughbred come in fifth place in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup juvenile, which Baffert called a disaster.
Baffert took the heat for the instructions he gave to the renowned jockey Bejarano and insisted that Power Broker is ready to roll:
He hasn't lost any of his conditioning, because he really hasn't been away. He's just been away from the action, but he has a really good foundation on him. The Breeders' Cup race was a disaster. I gave Bejarano bad instructions.
With a gifted trainer in Baffert and savvy owners in Gary and Mary West—who also own Flashback—this has the makings of a breakout performance from the three-year-old.
Super Ninety-Nine (9-2)
According to the aforementioned report by Privman, Super Ninety-Nine is set to start out in the lead in order to set a good pace for Flashback, who drew the rail.
Baffert's strategy is a sound one, but that doesn't mean that this horse can't make up some ground coming down the stretch.
If Gomez fails to rein back Flashback enough in the middle of the race, there should be an opening for this three-year-old to recover after dashing out in front. Super Ninety-Nine is hit or miss, winning three times and placing second in six previous outings, per Equibase.com.
It seems that Super Ninety-Nine can work his way into contention no matter the circumstances, and the favorable odds reflect that.