Taiba has won the Santa Anita Derby after surpassing Messier with a great run down the stretch.
Order of Finish, Pre-Race Odds, Payouts
1. Taiba (4-1): Win ($10.60), Place ($3.60), Show ($3.20)
2. Messier (6-5): Place ($2.80), Show ($2.10)
3. Happy Jack (25-1): Show ($4.20)
4. Armagnac (70-1)
5. Win The Day (25-1)
6. Forbidden Kingdom (Even)
Odds via NBC broadcast. Payouts via Daily Racing Form.
Forbidden Kingdom and Messier, the pre-race favorites, set the pace to start. Taiba was third, and Armagnac was hanging around fourth. Happy Jack and Win The Day were at the rear.
Forbidden Kingdom held the lead for nearly three-quarters of the race, but Messier took the lead at the quarter pole and grabbed the inside rail. Soon afterward, Forbidden Kingdom drifted to the back of the pack.
It appeared Messier, who is named after former NHL great Mark Messier, would win this race. But Taiba stormed down the stretch and roared past Messier for a two-length win. Happy Jack had a great run of his own, taking third after coming from behind.
This was just the second race of Taiba's career, but he's now 2-for-2. The Zedan Racing Stables, Inc.-owned horse won at Santa Anita in March.
Mike Smith served as the jockey, with Tim Yakteen as Taiba's trainer. Bob Baffert was Taiba's trainer, but he is suspended for 90 days in response to the positive medication test from his horse and 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who was eventually disqualified.
Matt Dinerman of Golden Gate Racing gave his take on Taiba's effort:
Taiba is certainly a horse to watch in one month's time at the Kentucky Derby. Epicenter, the current leader in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points list, figures to be the favorite. But Taiba could be a trendy pick following the Santa Anita Derby effort.
News and Notes
The Santa Anita Derby is a Grade 1 race for three-year-olds. It takes place every year in April at Santa Anita Park on a 1⅛-mile dirt track in Arcadia, California.
The race, which carries a $750,000 purse, is one of three Road to the Kentucky Derby races scheduled Saturday alongside the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes. Mo Donegal won the Wood Memorial, and Zandon took down the Blue Grass Stakes.
All three of those races award 170 total Road to the Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers in this order: first (100), second (40), third (20) and fourth (10).
The top 20 on the points ledger will qualify for the Derby. With the win, Taiba is a shoo-in to get there.
Forbidden Kingdom was already in the top 20, but Messier has now crept in with his second-place finish.
The formerly Baffert-trained horse could not carry any points won when the suspended trainer was overseeing him, but the second-place finish Saturday should carry him into the field off a tiebreaker (earnings in non-restricted stakes races).
Per Steve Kornacki on the NBC broadcast, earnings amassed in races that Baffert trained Messier for would count in the tiebreaker, meaning Messier leaps ahead with a group of horses gathered around 20th with 40 points.
Now it's time to set sights on the Kentucky Derby, which is set for May 7 from Louisville's Churchill Downs.