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2022 Santa Anita Derby Contenders and Odds

Road to the Derby: Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby

Messier, recently transferred from Bob Baffert to Tim Yakteen following a 15-length score on Feb. 6, never worse than second in five starts, heads a field of six sophomores going a mile and one eighth in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9.

The Santa Anita Derby, which has produced 19 Kentucky Derby winners, will reward the winner with 100 qualifying points to the Run for the Roses, with 40, 20 and 10 points going to the second through fourth place finishers.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Happy Jack 20-1 Abel Cedillo
124 Lbs
Doug O’Neill
2 Armagnac 20-1 Drayden Van Dyke
124 Lbs
Tim Yakteen
3 Forbidden Kingdom 6-5 Juan Hernandez
124 Lbs
Richard Mandella
4 Messier 1-1 John Velazquez
124 Lbs
Tim Yakteen
5 Win the Day 20-1 Umberto Rispoli
124 Lbs
Doug O’Neill
6 Taiba 4-1 Mike Smith
124 Lbs
Tim Yakteen

Favored in all five of his races, Messier, who was ridden for the first time by John Velazquez, earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 6. His 15-length victory was accomplished in gate to wire fashion and followed a second-place finish at the same distance in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 11.

An Ontario, Canadian-bred by Empire Maker out of the Smart Strike mare Checkered Past, Messier was purchased as a yearling for $470,000. A winner of Del Mar’s Grade III Bob Hope Stakes three starts back at seven furlongs on Nov. 14, Messier will be ridden for the second consecutive time by John Velazquez.

Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable, LLC, et al, Messier, who is named for the NHL Hall of Fame Center, is 5-3-2-0 with earnings of $285,600.

A front-running winner of a pair of graded stakes, the Grade II San Vicente at seven furlongs and the Grade II San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles on March 5, Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom will get a big class test and will undoubtably ensure a fast pace on Saturday.

Second, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Messier in the seven furlong Bob Hope three starts back, Forbidden Kingdom was sensational in the San Felipe, which was his first two-turn assignment. By 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of the Five Star Day mare Just Louise, Forbidden Kingdom is 5-3-1-1 and has been ridden throughout by Juan Hernandez.

A $300,000 yearling purchase, Forbidden Kingdom, who posted a 98 Beyer in the San Felipe, is owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm, who teamed for victory in the 2020 Kentucky Derby with Authentic. The leading money earner in the field with $434,000, he’s 5-3-1-1 overall.

The biggest question mark in Saturday’s Derby is Taiba. A brilliant first-out maiden winner, scoring by 7 ½ lengths going six furlongs as the 1-2 favorite here on March 5, the chestnut colt by Gun Runner earned a huge 103 Beyer. Originally trained by Baffert, he’s owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc. and is one of three Derby entrants to be saddled by Tim Yakteen.

A $1.7 million 2-year-old in training sale purchase, Taiba is out of the Flatter mare Needmore Flattery. With John Velazquez sticking with Messier, Taiba will be handled by Mike Smith and could prove bothersome to Forbidden Kingdom early as he battles for a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

Yakteen’s third entrant is Baffert alum Armagnac, who broke his maiden impressively two starts back at a mile and one sixteenth, but was subsequently distanced by Forbidden Kingdom in the Grade II San Felipe March 5 at odds of 9-2. Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al, Armagnac is a colt by Quality Road out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Kitty Wine.

Doug O’Neill will be seeking his third win in America’s most important Kentucky Derby prep with Calumet Farm homebred Happy Jack, who was most recently third to Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe Stakes and Win the Day, a one mile maiden special weight winner here on March 6.

Pre-Draw News


APRIL 3 – Messier and Adare Manor, winners of their last races by a combined margin of 28 lengths, each worked yesterday for this Saturday’s Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and Grade II Santa Anita Oaks, and Tim Yakteen was beyond delighted.

Messier and Adare manor both breezed five furlongs, the former in 1:00.60 and latter in 1:00.20.

“Messier was spectacular, as was the filly,” the trainer said. “We’re right on point. Messier went at 6:30 with Drayden Van Dyke aboard and Adare Manor went at 7:45 with my exercise rider, Baltazar Contreras.

“The works were just what I was looking for and were perfectly executed.”

Messier, named for hockey great Mark Messier, winner of six Stanley Cups, won the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6 by 15 lengths. The son of Empire Maker has been favored in each of his five races, four times at odds-on, and will vie for favoritism with Forbidden Kingdom in the Santa Anita Derby.

Adare Manor, a daughter of Uncle Mo, won her last two races by a combined margin of 25 lengths, including a 13-length romp in the Grade III Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 6.

John Velazquez will ride Adare Manor in the Oaks and Messier in the Santa Anita Derby.

The $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles will be run for the 85th time. It offers the winner 100 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to the third-place finisher and 10 to the fourth.


APRIL 2 – Doug O’Neill, who won the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby with Goldencents in 2013 and eventual Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in 2012, pursues another this Saturday in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the May 7 Kentucky Derby with Happy Jack and Win the Day.

Working in company, Happy Jack and Win the Day each went six furlongs Saturday in identical times of 1:14.20, while O’Neill’s Santa Anita Oaks nominee Awake at Midnyte went the same distance in a bullet 1:12.20.

Horse Betting online with Cash

Happy Jack, like O’Neill’s stable star Hot Rod Charlie a son of Oxbow, was third by 10 ½ lengths to Santa Anita Derby-bound Forbidden Kingdom last out in the San Felipe Stakes March 5, while Win the Day, a son of Midshipman, is coming off an impressive 5 ½-length maiden victory at one mile on March 6.

“Happy Jack is doing really well,” said O’Neill, who will have Abel Cedillo aboard the bay colt owned and bred by Calumet Farm for the fourth consecutive race.

“Win the Day had a nice maiden win going two turns on the main track here, so we’re hoping he moves forward a little bit. He’s got a big chance. Obviously, it’s going to be a tough race but we’ve got two live ones.”

Umberto Rispoli, who was aboard Win the Day for his maiden victory, retains the mount.


APRIL 1 – Probable Runhappy Santa Anita Derby favorite Forbidden Kingdom had his final important breeze Thursday for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 7, going seven furlongs under Nestor Capitaine in 1:26.60.

“He went very well,” said Richard Mandella, who could give the son of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah a three-furlong blowout in advance of the race.

“We’ll see about that,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who is seeking his first Santa Anita Derby victory and would be in pursuit of his first win in the Run for the Roses with what would be his seventh starter.

Forbidden Kingdom’s forte is speed. The chestnut colt owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm has been in front at some point in all five of his races, leading throughout the last two, the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs Jan. 29 and the San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16-miles March 5, each a Grade II event.

The $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles offers the winner 100 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to the third-place finisher and 10 to the fourth.

Forbidden Kingdom currently is tied for fourth in qualifying points with 50. – US Legal Santa Anita OTB is a great way to bet horse racing at Santa Anita Park . Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

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