Santa Anita Park hosts the 79th Santa Anita Derby this Saturday. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)
This Saturday Mor Spirit and Danzing Candy renew their budding rivalry in the West Coast’s biggest Kentucky Derby prep race, the $1-million Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park. The race has drawn a competitive field of 10 striving for a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate next month. But what’s so special about the historic race? Read on for 13 things you should know.
1. Trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill have won four of the last five Santa Anita Derbys; Baffert with Dortmund (2015) and Midnight Interlude (2011) and O’Neill with Goldencents (2013) and I’ll Have Another (2012). Both have horses entered this year.
2. Just three fillies have won the race: Ciencia in 1939, Silver Spoon in 1959 and future Kentucky Derby victress Winning Colors in 1988.
3. Eight Santa Anita Derby starters have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, though only one of them also won the Belmont to sweep the Triple Crown: Affirmed in 1978.
4. A record $25,789,625 was bet on Santa Anita Derby day in 2000.
5. Chestnut-colored horses have won three of the last four editions of the race.
6. The Santa Anita Derby has had 17 winners bred in the race’s home state of California; most recently California Chrome in 2014.
7. Three horses are tied for the speed record of 1:47 flat, including Lucky Debonair (1965), Sham (1973) and Indian Charlie (1998).
8. California Chrome is the most recent of 10 Santa Anita Derby starters who went on to be named Horse of the Year and the most recent of 14 named champion 3-year-old or 3-year-old filly.
9. Jockeys Stewart Elliott, Fernando Perez and Flavien Prat will be riding in their first Santa Anita Derby this year.
10. No horse has won the Santa Anita Derby from post position 7 or higher since 2007. Just three have won from 7 or higher in the last 25 years.
11. Bob Baffert and Gary Stevens hold the record for wins by a trainer and jockey, respectively, including three wins as a team. They partner on Mor Spirit, who could become Baffert’s eighth winner and Stevens’ 10th.
12. Destroyer shocked many when he won in 1974 at 44-1. His win payout of $89.80 is a record that stands to this day.
13. The race hasn’t always been run at 1 1/8 miles. Its first three runnings were at 1 1/16 miles and it was contested over 1 ¼ miles in 1947.