KRISTO: In the money in all 5 starts, 4 of those starts at Santa Anita. Wonder why he’s not in the Santa Anita Derby, then? I think he’s the horse that is set to win today. He had his ‘off’ race last time, a distant 3rd in the San Felipe, after running Brisnet speed figures in the 90s for 3 straight. In 9 races at Aqueduct during the long meet, the majority of winners have come from sprinters in posts 1 through 7. Kristo is the one horse fitting this category. SCHIVARELLI switches jockeys to leading rider Javier Castellano (31%), combined with trainer Eddie Kenneally, make the top win% combo of the field. Schivarelli is undefeated in two, and wired a small field in a mile-long optional-claimer last time. Also appears to be able to win today. Pace numbers at 2nd call for both races: 113, 86. He’s also worked 4 times, all at Belmont, 3 with a bullet. WICKED STRONG after graduating from maiden was 3rd in the Remsen, last in the Holy Bull, and 4th in an optional claimer won by Constitution last time out at Gulfstream. Only horse in the field to go 9 furlongs. Pace progression is strong, spiking to a new lifetime high of 89 last time, just past his 2YO best.
Santa Anita Derby:
CALIFORNIA CHROME, who wired the field here in the grade 2 San Felipe a month ago, winner of 3 straight races, active since last April, is likely the favorite, and certainly is my favorite. The 102 score in that Grade 2 event is ahead of his prior best of 101 in a 200k stakes event in December at this track. That 101 was right off a 7 week layoff, so he’s ready to accelerate further. Last 3 2nd-call numbers: 107, 87, 93. CANDY BOY appears to be the only clear competition. Winner of the Robert B Lewis here (Grade 2), 2nd in the CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park (RIP), always involved in the mix. 97 and 94 in those graded races are a small pair up of numbers ahead of his prior lifetime best numbers and he could go either way from there. My hunch is he’ll improve. Nice work tab: 5 workouts, all at The Great Race Place, the last 3 very fast and ‘handily’. The only other class in the race is HOPPERTUNITY, winner of Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes last month. Mike Smith aboard (23%), trained by Bob Baffert (27%). Tripled up in pace figures with a 99 in the Rebel after two other scores in the 90s. Seems to be running best in a middle post which is where he is today.