Making Money Betting Medina Spirit in the Santa Anita Derby

Gambling
Medina Spirit won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes Jan. 30 at Santa Anita Park and is expected to be a heavy favorite in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Saturday. (Eclipse Sportswire)

JustifyCalifornia Chrome, Sunday Silence, Winning Colors, Affirmed, and Swaps. These are just a few of the great horses who have utilized a victory in the $750,000 Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby as a springboard to success in the coveted Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, April 1: 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, April 2: 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, April 3: 1 p.m.-7 p.m. on FS2; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Held at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park, the Santa Anita Derby is one of the most important Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, churning out four of the last nine Kentucky Derby winners. That’s one reason why 10 talented three-year-olds have been entered in Saturday’s renewal of the historic race, which awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the winner.

But there’s another reason why a large field has turned out. The absence of the brilliant Life Is Good, who is sidelined with an ankle chip, has made the Santa Anita Derby a more appealing target for horses originally scheduled to avoid a matchup with the undefeated Bob Baffert trainee.

 Life Is Good would have been an overwhelming favorite to win the Santa Anita Derby, and his withdrawal has made the race a significantly more wide-open affair. But that doesn’t mean the race is inscrutable. If we can’t bet Life Is Good, then why not favor his stablemate and accomplished understudy #7 Medina Spirit?

Simply put, Medina Spirit has been a rock-solid competitor against tough competition at Santa Anita this season. He kicked off the year with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, in which he rallied with determination to finish less than a length behind Life Is Good. Then in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Medina Spirit somehow survived setting a blazing pace over a slow track to prevail by a neck in a three-horse photo finish. Third-place runner Hot Rod Charlie flattered the effort by returning to win the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby in his next start.

Medina Spirit was subsequently no match for Life Is Good in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, finishing eight lengths behind his stablemate. But Medina Spirit did show determination to gain the runner-up spot by a clear margin. According to Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form, Medina Spirit has since undergone a minor operation to correct a slight breathing issue, setting the stage for a sharper effort in the Santa Anita Derby.

Indeed, there are many reasons to believe Medina Spirit can produce a career-best performance in the Santa Anita Derby. His pedigree suggests stretching out over 1 1/8 miles will be right up his alley. He’s training sharply, clocking a fast five-eighths of a mile in :59 on March 22. Bob Baffert has won this race nine times, including two of the last three editions. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez (a 40% winner when teaming up with Baffert) retains the mount. And Medina Spirit has drawn perfectly in post position seven, setting the stage for a clean, unencumbered tracking trip. What’s not to like?

In short, I expect Medina Spirit to save the day for his sidelined stablemate and secure first prize in the Santa Anita Derby. We won’t hedge our bets — we’ll play Medina Spirit on top of all our tickets.

For second place, I’m keen to support #2 Dream Shake, a lightly raced but clearly talented prospect with just two starts under his belt. In his debut sprinting at Santa Anita on Feb. 7, Dream Shake unleashed an eye-catching performance, rallying boldly around the turn before kicking clear to beat a strong field by 4 3/4 lengths. Dream Shake then proved the effort wasn’t a fluke by coming back to finish third in the San Felipe, just 2 1/4 lengths behind Medina Spirit after making a nice rally up the inside.

A son of Twirling Candy out of a mare by Street Cry, Dream Shake has the pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles. Hot jockey Flavien Prat (the runaway leading rider at Santa Anita this winter) will be in the saddle, so if Dream Shake shows any improvement in his second start running long, he’ll be a force to reckon with down the homestretch.

#1 Roman Centurian and #9 The Great One, who finished fourth and fifth in the San Felipe, are other logical contenders bound to attract support at the betting windows. But a couple of promising newcomers also warrant support.

Rock Your World (BENOIT photo)

The first is #3 Rock Your World, a son of Candy Ride out of an Empire Maker mare. Although the John Sadler-trained colt is bred to handle dirt, his first two starts (both victories) have come on turf. Rock Your World was particularly flashy in the Feb. 27 Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita, pouncing from just off the pace to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

The other newcomer of note is #8 Law Professor, a 2 1/4-length maiden winner racing one mile over the Santa Anita main track. Trainer Michael McCarthy wins at a solid 18% rate in graded stakes races, and Law Professor has the pedigree to improve with maturity, so this lightly-raced youngster still has plenty of upside.

Depending on your budget, here are three wagering strategies to consider for the Santa Anita Derby:

Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$8 to win on #7 Medina Spirit

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $8 to win on 7

$2 exacta: 7 with 2

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $2 exacta 7 with 2

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$12 exacta: 7 with 2

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $12 exacta 7 with 2

$3 trifecta: 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $3 trifecta 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9

$3 trifecta: 7 with 3,8 with 2 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $3 trifecta 7 with 1,3,8,9 with 2

Wagering Strategy on a $50 Budget

$14 exacta: 7 with 2

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $14 exacta 7 with 2

$3 trifecta: 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $3 trifecta 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9

$3 trifecta: 7 with 3,8 with 2 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $3 trifecta 7 with 1,3,8,9 with 2

$1 superfecta: 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9 with 1,3,8,9 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $1 superfecta 7 with 2 with 1,3,8,9 with 1,3,8,9

$1 superfecta: 7 with 3,8 with 2 with 1,3,8,9 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 8th race, $1 superfecta 7 with 3,8 with 2 with 1,3,8,9

Good luck, and enjoy the race!

2021 RUNHAPPY Santa Anita Derby
April 3rd, 2021

Winning Time: 1:49.17
  • Purse: $750,000
  • Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
  • Age: 3 yo
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:49.17
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
3 Rock Your World
$12.40
$4.60
$3.40
2nd
7 Medina Spirit
$2.80
$2.20
3rd
2 Dream Shake
$2.80
4th
10 Defunded
5th
8 Law Professor
6th
4 Parnelli
8th
5 Back Ring Luck
9th
6 Ottothelegend
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
3-7-3
3-7-3
$36
Daily Double
7-3
7-3
$34
Exacta
3-7
3-7
$19
Superfecta
3-7-2-10
3-7-2-10
$17
Super High Five
3-7-2-10-8
3-7-2-10-8
$718
Trifecta
3-7-2
3-7-2
$30
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
3-7-3
3-7-3
$36
Daily Double
7-3
7-3
$34
Exacta
3-7
3-7
$19
Superfecta
3-7-2-10
3-7-2-10
$17
Super High Five
3-7-2-10-8
3-7-2-10-8
$718
Trifecta
3-7-2
3-7-2
$30

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