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Twilight Derby Preview: Express Train Trying Turf
Express Train working at Santa Anita Park with Mike Smith aboard (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Twilight Derby Preview: Express Train Trying Turf

ARCADIA, CA – C R K Stable’s Express Train makes his turf debut against a strong group of sophomores in Sunday’s $200,000 Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

The Twilight Derby is a 1 1/8-mile turf route restricted to 3-year-old runners. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 5:00 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Twilight Derby:

1. Farmington Road 6/1 – He competed in several races along the Triple Crown trail before finishing eighth in the Belmont Stakes (G1), then won his turf debut in a 1 3/16-mile Colonial Downs allowance race by a neck over a next-out victor. Off since that July 29 event, he appears out west for trainer Todd Pletcher, who’s just 11 wins shy of 5,000 (through October 15).

2. Express Train 6/1 – His turf debut follows a 5-2-2-0 record on dirt, which includes a narrow 3/4-length defeat against optional claiming rivals in a local mile route on September 26. The Union Rags colt, purchased for $500k as a yearling, retains Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith for the sixth time, and trainer John Shirreffs has won 4 of his past 10 dirt-to-turf surface moves.

3. Margot’s Boy 6/1 – The California-bred nearly sprung the 12/1 upset in the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby (G2) last time out, missing by just a head after stalking the early pace and leading late. He’s won 3 of his 4 starts over the local lawn (his lone defeat was a 1/2-length miss in the Snow Chief Stakes) and keeps Tiago Pereira aboard for the second straight start.

4. Kiss Today Goodbye 12/1 – He returned to turf in the Del Mar Derby for the first time since his first 2 career starts and finished fifth, beaten just 2 1/2 lengths. Prior to that, he finished a close third in the Shared Belief Stakes behind a pair of Kentucky Derby (G1) runners, and he fired a sharp 4-furlong move in :47.80 over the training track in his final work for this.

5. Dominant Soul 15/1 – Trainer/owner/breeder Paula Capestro nearly saddled him to a 50/1 upset in the Del Mar Derby, where he led until mid-stretch and still had enough to save third in his first start since breaking his maiden. The best races of his career have come when going long on the lawn, but he’ll have to contend with other early speed from the rival directly outside.

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6. Smooth Like Strait 5/2 – The multiple Grade 3 winner stretches out to the longest distance of his career after taking the La Jolla Handicap (G3) and finishing fourth in the American Turf Stakes (G2), both 1 1/16-mile events. La Jolla jockey Umberto Rispoli, back for the second time, shows confidence by leaving the rival directly outside, whom he rode in his 4 prior starts.

7. Scarto 8/1 – He enters on a 2-race win streak, first against $50k starter allowance foes and then against optional claimers, while making his first 2 career appearances in turf routes. While Rispoli leaves for the rival to his inside, new jockey Juan Hernandez is currently tied atop the meet’s jockey standings with 16 wins (through October 15).

8. K P All Systems Go 10/1 – He won 2 straight in the spring and missed by a neck to a fellow Jeff Mullins trainee in June’s Cinema Stakes, held over this same course and distance. He’s only hit the board once in 3 subsequent starts, but trainer Jeff Mullins and regular rider Abel Cedillo have won 7 of their past 24 mounts (29%) together at Santa Anita Park.

9. Field Pass 3/1 – He invades from the east in search of his fifth stakes score of the year, with all prior victories coming on as many different tracks and with as many different jockeys aboard. Top local rider Drayden Van Dyke will try to be the fifth to cross first aboard the Mike Maker trainee, whose penultimate work for this event was a bullet 5-furlong move in :59.40.


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