Monday Morning Mig: Gormley’s Santa Anita Derby Score

Gormley (outside) outfinished Battle of Midway under Victor Espinoza to win the Santa Anita Derby on April 8. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Retired jockey Richard Migliore, who works as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, offers his expertise from the perspective of a professional rider in a regular feature for America's Best Racing — Monday Morning Mig. A winner of 4,450 career races and the 1981 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice will review key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, providing his thoughts leading into the race, insights about what happened during the running of the race and key takeaways from the outcome.

This week, Migliore takes a closer look at the April 8 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.

1. The Post Positions: In a big field, post positions become extremely important.  Key contender Reach the World drew post position No. 2 which I thought would be favorable, while Royal Mo drawing post No. 13 figured to take the worst of it.

2. The Start: Several horses went looking for the lead while Gormley, who broke alertly, eased back into a perfect ground-saving position. Royal Mo was sent from the outside post trying to clear his inside rivals. Battle of Midway held his inside position in what was a fast and contested pace.

3. The Big Move: Victor Espinoza sensing a fast pace and changing tactics with the eventual winner Gormley easing him back to come from just off the pace.

4. The Big Miss: Royal Mo, who was sent from the outside, appeared as though he was going to clear his inside rivals when his rider Gary Stevens took ahold of him and wound up vying three or four wide throughout. In hindsight he may have been better served allowing his mount to clear in spite of the fast pace. Eventual fourth-place finisher Reach the World encountered traffic into the first turn and wound up losing valuable position. Mike Smith aboard Reach the World got his colt running into the second turn and was forced to go extremely wide, costing him valuable real estate.

5. The Finish: It was nice to see Gormley rally from off the pace. As game as he was, his trip contributed significantly to his victory. With better trips from other horses, I easily could have seen a different outcome.

6. The Takeaway: In what was a fairly slow running of the Santa Anita Derby, the horse that caught my eye as a legitimate Derby contender, Reach the World, most likely won't be able to run due to lack of qualifying points. I will be looking for him in the Belmont Stakes. I would not discount either of the John Shirreffs runners, Gormley and Royal Mo, although I prefer the latter, who as of now does not have enough qualifying points to make the Derby either.

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