The 2020 Santa Anita Derby gives horse racing fans a look at a top stakes race as the sport slowly begins to return to normalcy. Seven top three-year-olds will be in action at Santa Anita in a key test of their Triple Crown qualifications. Those who perform the best will likely be pointed toward key races like the Kentucky Derby later in the year.
The world of horse racing is in the midst of some strange times. Those looking at the bright side can say that at least the sport has returned to action, which is more than can be said for some of its counterparts like baseball and basketball. But there is no doubt that the schedule has been flipped upside down in a lot of ways.
This is especially true in terms of the three-year-old stakes races, which are usually focused on a five-week stretch in May and June when the Triple Crown races are contested. All three of those races were postponed by the pandemic, and the timing has been scrambled. The Belmont Stakes is now first, coming up in a few weeks, with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes shuffled to September and October, respectively.
Other top stakes races which are used to prep for the Triple Crown have also been reshuffled a bit. The Santa Anita Derby, which has traditionally been one of the top prep races, now takes place this Saturday, two months later than its original date. But, if anything, its importance has only grown because of the changes.
2020 Santa Anita Derby Is Greatly Anticipated
The 2020 Santa Anita Derby figures to be crucial because someone needs to step forward as a three-year-old to become a favorite in the absence of some other top horses. An injury knocked off Nadal, who looked like a Triple Crown candidate. And Charlatan, another unbeaten horse, has his future clouded after it was reported he tested positive for a banned substance.
Both of those horses were trained by Bob Baffert. But as usual, Baffert has an answer, and we’ll see that answer, the unbeaten Authentic, in the 2020 Santa Anita Derby.
It’s interesting that the horse is slotted here, as it is highly unlikely he would return to race in two weeks in the Belmont Stakes. In other words, Baffert might be thinking about the long game of the Kentucky Derby with this one, foregoing a possible Triple Crown.
But Authentic won’t have it easy on Saturday. Among the other horses in the seven-horse field looking to knock him off is Honor A.P., who battled Authentic gallantly in their last meeting. And several others in the field are improving and hoping to make the jump into stakes contender status.
It should be interesting to watch. The 2020 Santa Anita Derby actually highlights a day full of stakes races at the California track. As a result, horse racing bettors who have been hungering for top action will likely be thrilled about Saturday’s card.
With that in mind, we’re here to give you an in-depth betting preview of the 2020 Santa Anita Derby. We’ll look at each horse and take a look at their past performances and how they seem to be shaping up coming into this crucial race. Finally, we’ll help you out with your betting by telling you our picks for the top three in the order of finish.
2020 Santa Anita Derby Details
Where: Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California
When: Saturday, June 6, 2020, Post time of 4 PM Pacific Time
Who: Three-year-old horses
How Long: 1 1/8 miles
What Surface: Dirt
How Much: Purse of $400,000
2020 Santa Anita Derby Contenders
#1: Friar’s Road (Geovanni Franco, Michael McCarthy) 20-1
Just the fact that this one is still a maiden shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to throw it out of your betting consideration. With the way the thoroughbred schedules have been messed about, it’s far more likely that we’ll see more maidens in these stakes races going forward. Friar’s Road is coming off back-to-back seconds in maiden races.
The good news is that one of those seconds came at the 1 1/8-mile distance, so there shouldn’t be much of a shock to his system. He came up short of Shooters Shoot, the morning-line third choice, in one of those maiden races. But in such a short field, it isn’t out of the question to see him in third or fourth at the end.
#2: Rushie (Flavien Prat, Michael McCarthy) 8-1
Keep an eye on this one, the second of McCarthy’s entries, as he seems to be on the improve. In his last three starts, he has won two and finished second in the other. And the one loss in that span came to Bob Baffert’s Charlatan, who could be a Belmont Stakes favorite in a few weeks if he is cleared to race.
In addition, Rushie has scored a win on the Santa Anita dirt, so there is a familiarity factor. This is his first time stretched to 1 1/8 miles and his first time against stakes competition (although you could make the case that Charlatan is better than anyone he’ll face in here anyway.) Add in a top jockey in Prat, and you have a mid-priced horse with legitimate hopes.
#3: Shooter’s Shoot (Abel Cedillo, Peter Eurton) 6-1
What you like about this colt is his experience, with six races under his belt and consistent efforts in those races. He hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his career and he has two wins and four in-the-money finishes. And he’s peaking, as those two wins have come in his last two starts.
The big concern is whether or not his front-running style will serve him well as he adds not just distance but much toucher competition as well. This will be an eighth of a mile longer than he’s ever gone before. And that means that Shooter’s Shoot would have to get away with murder on the lead to have a shot, which doesn’t seem very likely with the top two choices coming into the picture late.
About six months ago, the future looked pretty bright for this colt. He scored an unlikely second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, putting him on the map. His three-year-old season began well enough with a second in a Grade 2, which made it look like he was ready to improve off that.
Instead, he has been a non-factor with ninth and fifth-place finishes in his last two races. There is not a classier horse in the race than Anneau D’Or, as every race he’s been in besides his maiden debut victory has been at least a Grade 2. Maybe some of that class will get him into the mix in this one with Espinoza providing the spark.
#5: Azul Coast (Umberto Rispoli, Bob Baffert) 15-1
The Baffert name will obviously draw some attention for this up and comer. But that could also work against him, in that some folks might believe that he’s in there just to set up the pace the right way for the much more highly-touted Authentic. That isn’t a likely scenario, of course, but it might cross enough minds to keep his odds more reasonable than a Baffert horse usually would be.
The good news is that he has finished no worse than second in three races, and his lone loss came to his stablemate Authentic. He also has a race of 1 1/8-miles under his belt, which could help him in the closing moments. But the big worry is a four-month layoff, which could mean he won’t quite be at his peak for this one.
#6: Honor A.P. (Mike Smith, John Shirreffs) 5-2
With this horse, how you view him could come down to your views as a handicapper. Does the fact that he’s making his second start of the year make him a prime candidate for the bump a horse often gets in its second start off a layoff? Or does the three months off he has taken since coming up short of Authentic in the San Felipe Stakes qualify as a layoff of its own.
If you believe the former, you might think that he has the stuff to avenge his loss to Authentic. And if you believe the latter, then you likely believe that he’ll come up short of the ultimate prize again. In any case, if you’re a value bettor, you’re more likely going to look for Honor A.P. at much more favorable odds.
#7 Authentic (Drayden Van Dyke, Bob Baffert) 6-5
Look for those 6-5 odds to drop well below even-money when all is said and done. In this abbreviated prep season, Baffert has proven time and again the ability to deliver with heavy favorites, as his unbeaten powerhouse trip (also including the now-injured Nadal and Charlatan) have rolled over all competition. Of course, the other way to look at it is that the law of averages is working against him and one of them is bound to lose at some point.
Authentic is dealing with 1 1/8 miles for the first time and also has the same layoff concerns as many in this race. All things being equal, he looks like the one to beat. But there isn’t much value in betting on him, unless you put him at the top of your exotics and hope to pin down the order of the also-rans.
The 2020 Santa Anita Derby Pick
Authentic at the top of his game probably rolls over this field. But the crazy circumstances caused by the global situation might mean he needs a start to find that peak, in which case he could be vulnerable to an upset and might mean you should go another direction with your wagers at top Santa Anita Derby betting sites. And if that’s the case, it could be time for Anneau D’Or to get it done in the 2020 Santa Anita Derby at a nice price, with Authentic a beaten second and Rushie sneaking in for the show.
Santa Anita Derby 2020 Pick – Anneau D’OR 10-1
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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