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Medina Spirit, Beautiful Gift Fancied For Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, Oaks
Medina Spirit (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Medina Spirit, Beautiful Gift Fancied For Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, Oaks

ARCADIA, CA – Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit drew post 7 and was named the 9/5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $750,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1), and his Bob Baffert stablemate Beautiful Gift drew post 5 for the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2), as they headline Saturday’s card at The Great Race Place.

The Santa Anita Derby is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-olds that offers qualifying points along the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) prep series. The winner will receive 100 points, the runner-up 40, with 20 to third and 10 to fourth.

Joining the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday’s loaded card at The Great Race Place is the Santa Anita Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile dirt route for 3-year-old fillies that awards Kentucky Oaks (G1) points to the top four finishers on the same 100-40-20-10 basis.

Medina Spirit broke his maiden on debut and won the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) here on January 30 in a three-way photo finish over returning rival Roman Centurian and Hot Rod Charlie, who won the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his next start. Medina Spirit’s 2 losses were runner-up efforts to fellow Baffert trainee Life Is Good, who was expected to run here before an injury disrupted his training.

Another stablemate named Defunded seemingly fills Life Is Good’s void as he steps up from his local 6-furlong maiden-breaking effort March 6. Gelded after losing his debut last August, the son of Dialed In was off until that dirt sprint, when he won by 2 1/2 lengths despite getting bumped around. Life Is Good’s Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rides him for the first time.

Undefeated in 2 tries on grass, Rock Your World gives dirt a try and could offer much-needed value against the two-headed Baffert monster. He broke his maiden while debuting on January 1 in a 6-furlong sprint, then drew off impressively to win the 1-mile Pasadena Stakes in late February. The Candy Ride colt is out of the Empire Maker mare Charm the Maker, multiple graded stakes-placed on dirt.

Dream Shake attracted immediate Derby Trail discussion following his 4 3/4-length debut victory here on February 7 but wasn’t able to keep pace with either Baffert in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), finishing third. The Peter Eurton trainee attracted the meet’s leading rider Flavien Prat for the first time as he attempts to cut into the 2 1/4-length gap that he finished behind runner-up Medina Spirit last out.

Here is the full field for the Santa Anita Derby:

1Roman CenturianJuan HernandezSimon Callaghan10/1
2Dream ShakeFlavien PratPeter Eurton3/1
3Rock Your WorldUmberto RispoliJohn Sadler6/1
4ParnelliEdwin MaldonadoJohn Shirreffs20/1
5Back Ring LuckTyler BazeJohn Sadler50/1
6OttothelegendMario GutierrezSteve Asmussen30/1
7Medina SpiritJohn VelazquezBob Baffert9/5
8Law ProfessorKent DesormeauxMichael McCarthy15/1
9The Great OneAbel CedilloDoug O'Neill8/1
10DefundedMike SmithBob Baffert10/1

Beautiful Gift and Moraz are set for a rematch after the former nailed the latter on the wire to win last month’s local 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) by a head. Beautiful Gift broke her maiden at second asking while going a local mile in her first try routing last October, then had her fit enough to win the Santa Ysabel despite the 4-month hiatus. John Velazquez rides for the second straight start.

Moraz led halfway home in the Santa Ysabel but couldn’t hold on late to suffer her second straight defeat following the local 1-mile Las Virgenes Stakes (G3). The Empire Maker filly is out of an A.P. Indy mare, so distance shouldn’t be an issue, as she demonstrated in career start #2 when she won a local 1-mile route by 11 lengths (though that was her only time receiving race-day Lasix).

Despite seeing his Las Virgenes winner Moonlight d’Oro sidelined due to injury, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella shows confidence pushing recent debut winner Soothsay into the deep end of the pool, and the meet’s leading rider Flavien Prat retains the mount. The Distorted Humor filly has put forth 3 quick stamina-building workouts since her first start and is bred to run two turns.

Here is the full field for the Santa Anita Oaks:

1MorazUmberto RispoliMichael McCarthy
2Brilliant CutAbel CedilloDoug O'Neill
3SoothsayFlavien PratRichard Mandella
4JavanicaMike SmithEoin Harty
5Beautiful GiftJohn VelazquezBob Baffert

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