2021 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Cheat Sheet

Racing
Medina Spirit, inside, and Roman Centurian, outside, will engage in a rematch April 3 in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Medina Spirit won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, above, on Jan. 30. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Three of the last nine Santa Anita Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby four weeks later, and though the years it has been one of the most important stops on the Triple Crown trail. Justify in 2018 won Santa Anita Park’s signature Derby prep race on his way to a sweep of the Triple Crown.

The 2021 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby April 3 is one of the final points races for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, offering 100 points to the winner and a guaranteed spot in the May 1 run for the roses. The 1 1/8-mile race also awards 40 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby to the runner-up, 20 points to the third-place finisher, and 10 points for fourth.

While the Santa Anita Derby does serve as a steppingstone to the classics – 19 Kentucky Derby winners also raced in the Santa Anita Derby – it is an important race in its own right with past winners such as Rough n’ Tumble, Hill Gail, Determine, Swaps, Silky Sullivan, Hill Rise, Lucky Debonair, Majestic Prince, Sham, Affirmed, Skywalker, Winning Colors, Sunday Silence, A.P. Indy, Point Given, Pioneerof the Nile, I’ll Have Another, Goldencents, California Chrome, Exaggerator, and the aforementioned Justify. The Santa Anita Derby has been a Grade 1 race since Sham won it in 1973.

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The race will be televised by NBC Sports as part of their “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series during a two-hour program airing on NBCSN and beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.  Also be sure to check out ABR’s “Santa Anita Park: Road to the Derby Live!” on Saturday, April 3. Hosts Dan TordjmanBram Weinstein and Ren Carothers will take viewers right up to post time for the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby in an immersive second-screen livestream experience that allows fans and bettors to interact in real-time.

Read on for more information about all 10 entrants for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Roman Centurian (8-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Juan Hernandez

Trainer: Simon Callaghan

Owners: Don Alberto Stable and Qatar Racing Limited

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $78,020

Earnings per start: $19,505

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Kentucky Derby Points: 9

Pedigree: Empire Maker – Spare Change, by Bernardini

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After earning his first career win in his season debut when stretching out around two turns for the first time Jan. 3, Roman Centurian proved game and up to the task in his stakes debut when second by a neck to Medina Spirit in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He took a step back when beaten by 13 ½ lengths by Life Is Good March 6 when fourth in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. While Life Is Good is now off the Derby trail with an injury, on paper this Empire Maker colt would still need to make up three to five lengths on the top contenders for this race to be considered a serious win threat. A fast early pace would help Roman Centurian’s chances as one of two or three pure closers in this race.


2. Dream Shake (7-2)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Peter Eurton

Owners: Exline-Border Racing, SAF Racing, and Richard Hausman 

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $72,600

Earnings per start: $36,300

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby Points: 10

Pedigree: Twirling Candy – Even Song, by Street Cry

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Dream Shake followed an impressive 4 ¾-length debut win Feb. 7 at Santa Anita Park with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes while stretching out from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Although Dream Shake finished 10 ¼ lengths behind winner Life Is Good, he was only 2 ¼ lengths behind runner-up Medina Spirit, who is the logical favorite in the Santa Anita Derby with Life Is Good sidelined. Dream Shake will need to boost his Equibase Speed Figure by probably 8 to 10 points to be a win candidate, but he could be primed for a career-best performance in his third start having shown he can hold his own against graded stakes competition and run well in a two-turn race. With a little more experience and stamina, Dream Shake looks like a compelling contender and he should be a decent price with several other notable 3-year-olds entered.


BENOIT photo

3. Rock Your World (4-1)

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: John Sadler

Owners: Hronis Racing and David Michael Talla

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $96,600

Earnings per start: $48,300

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Kentucky Derby Points: 0

Pedigree: Candy Ride – Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: If you are looking for a potential upset candidate in the Santa Anita Derby, Rock Your World might fill that role as an unbeaten 3-year-old trying the main track for the first time. The Candy Ride colt won his career debut in a three-quarter-mile turf sprint Jan 1 at Santa Anita in a fast time to earn a 94 Equibase Speed Figure and then followed with an impressive 2 ¼-length win in the one-mile Pasadena Stakes Feb. 27, also on the turf at Santa Anita. The 98 Equibase Speed Figure he earned in the Pasadena indicates he has the talent to compete with top 3-year-olds. Rock Your World has terrific natural speed and a powerful pedigree – his first three dams all are stakes winners – that does appear to favor turf, but some racehorses can handle multiple surfaces and his connections might as well find out now if he can handle the main track. If he does, he’s probably a win contender; if he doesn’t, Rock Your World very likely finishes up the track and goes back to the grass. Trainer John Sadler won the Santa Anita Derby in 2010 with Sidney’s Candy.


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Parnelli (20-1)

Jockey: Edwin Maldonado

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $81,600

Earnings per start: $13,600

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Kentucky Derby Points: 2

Pedigree: Quality Road – Sip Sip, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Quality Road colt closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a breakthrough win by 5 ¾ lengths in a one-mile race Nov. 28 at Santa Anita. The win followed three straight runner-up finishes to start his career. A third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes offered some reason for optimism, even though he was well-beaten by Life Is Good in that start, but he took a step back when fifth by 19 ¼ lengths in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes Jan. 30. Parnelli would need a monster bounce-back effort in the Santa Anita Derby to be a factor as his two starts this season do not paint him as a serious win contender. Trainer John Shirreffs won this race for the third time in 2020 with Honor A. P. for Parnelli’s owner C R K Stable. Shirreffs also won the Santa Anita Derby in 2007 with Tiago and 2017 with Gormley.


Coady Photography

5. Back Ring Luck (20-1)

Jockey: Tyler Baze

Trainer: John Sadler

Owners: Clarke M. Cooper Family Trust, Mia Familia Racing Stable, and Wade Jacobsen

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $81,271

Earnings per start: $16,254

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Kentucky Derby Points: 0

Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Patti O’Rahy, by Rahy

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A prime candidate to be the biggest longshot in the race, Back Ring Luck will need some racing luck to find his way into the top three in the Santa Anita Derby. He won a maiden claiming race in November at Churchill Downs, where he was claimed for a $30,000 price. He did not race for 3 ½ months, returning in a March 5 allowance-optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park which he won by a head. Back Ring Luck improved his Equibase Speed Figure 22 points to a new career-best 97 in that 1 1/16-mile race. It’s hard to expect another improvement like that – which he’d most likely need to win a race like this – coming back on four weeks rest, but he could find his way into the trifecta or superfecta with a similar effort and an ideal setup. Back Ring Luck was purchased privately after his season debut by a new ownership group and transferred to trainer John Sadler, won the Santa Anita Derby in 2010 with Sidney’s Candy. For pedigree players, Back Ring Luck’s dam (mother), Patti O’Rahy, is a half-sister to champion Untapable and Grade 1 winner Paddy O’Prado, who finished third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.


Coady Photography

6. Ottothelegend (12-1)

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Three Chimneys Farm

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $54,600

Earnings per start: $27,300

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Kentucky Derby Points: 0

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – House of Danzing, by Chester House

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Like several others in here, Ottothelegend is taking a major step up in class here while facing Grade 1 competition coming off a maiden win. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen ships the Uncle Mo colt in from Oaklawn Park off a two-length win from off the pace March 6 at the Hot Springs, Ark. track. On paper, Ottothelegend does not appear to be fast enough to win with a career-best 88 Equibase Speed Figure, but he’s a half-sibling to three graded stakes winners, including Grade 1 winner and sire Twirling Candy. He could sneak into the exotics with a breakout performance, but it would very likely take a heck of an improvement combined with a significant regression for probable favorite Medina Spirit to reach the winner’s circle. Mario Gutierrez won the Santa Anita Derby in 2012 on I'll Have Another.


Eclipse Sportswire

7. Medina Spirit (5-2)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $165,200

Earnings per start: $41,300

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Kentucky Derby Points: 34

Pedigree: Protonico – Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The winner of the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Jan. 30 enters off a well-beaten second to stablemate Life Is Good in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. But with the San Felipe winner sidelined with an injury, Medina Spirit probably will be the favorite for the Santa Anita Derby with the top Equibase Speed Figure (109) in the field and proven class against elite 3-year-old competition. He showed serious tenacity in winning the Robert B. Lewis, which came one start after he rallied to finish three-quarters of a length behind the aforementioned Life Is Good – the only time Life Is Good has even been seriously challenged – in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. You would prefer to see an improving pattern when it comes to speed figures; instead, Medina Spirit has been sloping in the other direction and the price most likely will be very short at post time. That said, Medina Spirit is a serious win contender in the Santa Anita Derby capable of giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his 10th win in the race following Cavonnier (1996), Indian Charlie (1998), General Challenge (1999), Point Given (2001), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Midnight Interlude (2011), Dortmund (2015), Justify (2018), and Roadster (2019).


8. Law Professor (10-1)

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Trainer: Mike McCarthy

Owner: Twin Creeks Racing Stables

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $37,100

Earnings per start: $18,550

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Kentucky Derby Points: 0

Pedigree: Constitution – Haunted Heroine, by Ghostzapper

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Sometimes first impressions can be misleading, especially with racehorses. Law Professor who showed little in his February debut in a 6 ½-furlong sprint, but four weeks later he delivered a dominant 2 ½-length win at 20.60-1 odds when stretching out to a mile for trainer Mike McCarthy. The 97 Equibase Speed Figure he earned for his second start offers some reason for optimism, but Law Professor will face a major class test going from a maiden race to a Grade 1 race that serves as a major Kentucky Derby prep. Law Professor’s dam (mother), Haunted Heroine, was a multiple stakes winner in two-turn races and a half-sister to a Grade 1 winner, so with a competitive speed figure and a solid pedigree it’s easy to see why his connections are talking a chance in this spot. It’s a tall order to say the least, but the odds should be appealing if you’re looking for a longshot to spice up exotic bets. Jockey Kent Desormeaux has won this race twice: Free House (1997) and Exaggerator (2016).


Eclipse Sportswire

9. The Great One (8-1)        

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owners: ERJ Racing, Train Wreck Al Racing Stables, Niall Brennan, Tom Fritz, and William Strauss 

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $89,940

Earnings per start: $14,990

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Kentucky Derby Points: 4

Pedigree: Nyquist – Little Ms Protocol, by El Corredor

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Two of his first three races came on grass, but The Great One took a step forward in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity when he set the pace and finished second by a nose to winner Spielberg Dec. 19. He stayed on dirt for his next race and earned his first career-win with an eye-catching, 14-length romp in a one-mile maiden special weight race Jan. 23 at Santa Anita Park. He earned a 104 Equibase Speed Figure in that win and appeared to be an emerging prospect on the Kentucky Derby trail. The Great One returned to stakes competition for the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes March 6, and it would be easy and justifiable to view his fifth-place finish, beaten by 16 ¾ lengths, as a major disappointment. However, I thought his chances against runaway winner Life Is Good were compromised by a poor start that forced him away from his best pace-pressing style. Expect a better performance from The Great One in the Santa Anita Derby. The absence of Life Is Good really opens up an opportunity for several runners who had previously finished behind him and The Great One could be a beneficiary. Trainer Doug O’Neill won the Santa Anita Derby in 2012 with I’ll Have Another, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and in 2013 with Goldencents.


Eclipse Sportswire

10. Defunded (6-1)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram, and Paul Weitman 

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $52,200

Earnings per start: $26,100

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby Points: 0

Pedigree: Dialed in – Wind Caper, by Touch Gold

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Stablemate Medina Spirit will be the main focus coming out of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn, but don’t overlook this mystery gelding completely. After finishing third in his debut in August 2020 at Del Mar, Defunded did not race again for more than 6 ½ months when he rallied impressively from eighth early to win by 2 ½ lengths in a three-quarter-mile sprint March 6 at Santa Anita Park. Sure, distance is a question for Defunded with only a pair of sprints on his résumé and a pedigree that slants heavily toward speed on the bottom half. But he’s been training well since his comeback win and Baffert has won this race a record nine times – but surprisingly never for longtime clients Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, who own Defunded. He’s another who would benefit from a hot pace up front; if he can settle at the back of the field and reserve his stamina for one late bid, Defunded could hit the board at what figures to be a decent price. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has won the Santa Anita Derby four times, including each of the last three editions, with Tiago (2007), Justify (2018), Roadster (2019), and Honor A. P. (2020).

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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