ARCADIA, CA – C R K Stable’s Honor A. P. rallied past the undefeated Authentic in mid-stretch and held on strongly to win Saturday’s $400,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Breaking from post 6 under Mike Smith as the 2/1 second choice, Honor A. P. sat comfortably in mid-flight while in the clear. Just ahead of him, Shooters Shoot dueled inside of Anneau d’Or and Authentic through the clubhouse turn and onto the backstretch while posting fractions of :23.07, :46.88, and 1:10.97.
Smith sent Honor A. P. four-wide as he took dead aim at the leaders, making a powerful move as he turned for home. Shooting past Authentic shortly after straightening out, Honor A. P. continued running well in hand while distancing himself from the field with every stride.
Despite drifting in slightly in deep stretch, the John Shirreffs trainee crossed 2 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:48.97 for the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route.
“The plan was to (break) well and to let him run into that first turn and hopefully I could get him behind Authentic,” Smith said. “If not right behind him, then just to his outside a little bit and use my horse’s big, long stride to his advantage and maybe get a little brave a little early. … He gives every indication that he can go a mile and 1/4, just the way he does it, the way he galloped out today. I mean, I had to pull him up; he just keeps going with that big stride. It’s almost as if horses have to take two (strides) to his one, it seems like.”
Authentic was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Rushie, who was best of the strung-out rest of the field. Anneau d’Or was fourth, Shooters Shoot fifth, Friar’s Road sixth, and Azul Coast seventh to complete the order of finish.
The Santa Anita Derby is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Honor A. P. earned 100 points for the win, with Authentic receiving 40 for second, Rushie 20 for third, and Anneau d’Or 10 for fourth.
Honor A. P.’s win was his first since breaking his maiden over this course last October and improved his record to 4-2-2-0 with $362,200 earned. The 3-year-old Honor Code colt is out of the multiple Grade 1-winning dam Hollywood Story, whom Shirreffs also campaigned.
“We were happy with the way Honor A. P. was training for the race,” Shirreffs said. “We knew that he has tactical speed and Mike can put him pretty much where he wants. On the backside, we hoped he would get comfortable to have a nice little kick in the end, and it all worked out well.”
Honor A. P. returned $6.40 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Authentic brought back $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Rushie paid $3.40 to show.