#8 Midnight Transfer (KY) – Midnight Transfer was third in the San Felipe and didn’t make up much ground on the top two, but didn’t lose much on them either. He’s made improvement every time he’s raced, and I think he’s sitting on a big one. The Carla Gaines trained colt has been working very well leading up to this race. With a jockey change to Hall-of-Fame jockey Mike Smith, I look for Midnight Transfer to turn the table on Creative Cause and win the Santa Anita Derby in a mild upset.
#1 Creative Cause (KY) – So yes, Creative Cause is my number one rated three-year old, and I’m picking against him. Doesn’t make much sense does it? Well, I was set to make him my top selection, and then he drew the rail. To me this is the worst possible place this horse can be. His running style is not conducive to the rail in my opinion. However, removing the blinkers for this race may help him. Hopefully for him and those backing him he breaks well, and is able to sit mid-pack and relax. It’s hard for me to pick against him, but I feel like I have to do it. If he does overcome the rail, and wins the race, he will no doubt be my number one ranked colt going into the Kentucky Derby.
#2 Liaison (KY) – This is the first of three Baffert trainees in the Santa Anita Derby, and out of the three this horse is probably the one you can predict the best. I have never thought Liaison to be a Derby type horse, but I do believe he’s going to give us an honest effort in this spot. He’s experienced, and has been able to compete with most of these so far. Look for him to hit the board, but that’s probably his ceiling.
#4 I’ll Have Another (KY) – He won the Robert B. Lewis stakes at 43-1 on February 4th, but oddly enough we haven’t seen him since. I’m not sure how strong that Robert Lewis win was, but the race proves he has to be taken seriously in this one. The time off is a little concerning to me, so I’ve slotted him in exotic plays slot. However, I would not be surprised if he out-ran my expectations.
#6 Paynter (KY) – This is the buzz horse! Nearly all the local handicapers and clockers have been raving about this horse. Even though he’s only won a five and a half furlong maiden race, there will be plenty of people backing Paynter, and for good reason. Paynter has worked three breath-taking bullets in morning workouts, and is bred to win a race of this distance. Another plus for Paynter is his trainer. Bob Baffert knows a thing or two about winning this race. The big question is can he win a race of this caliber considering his total lack of experience? Zayat stables’ Bodemeister was in a much similar situation in the San Felipe, and almost took down Creative Cause. I’m expecting a similar effort from Paynter on Saturday.
#3 Holy Candy (KY) – This horse has some buzz around it as well, but I’m not as high on him as Paynter. There is no questioning that his recent maiden win was impressive, but did he beat much in that race? I think this jump may be too much for him. It’s a little dangerous to totally ignore this one, but to this handicapper a win would be shocking.
#5 Longview Drive (KY) – His race in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn was disappointing, even though I really liked him coming into the race. I believe the Southwest could have been a bounce, but I still don’t think he’s good enough to compete with these.
#7 Senor Rain (IN) – This horse has run very well in the allowance races, but his only two starts against graded company have resulted in two 9th place finishes. Considering this is the best field he’s faced yet, I don’t like his chances.
#9 Blueskiesnrainbows (VA) – It’s hard to ever “throw out” a Baffert horse at Santa Anita, but I think this one is a stretch. He looks to be more of an allowance/ungraded stakes type horse.
#10 Brother Francis (KY) – Maiden running in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby…need I say more?