Player Quick Pick: G1 Santa Anita Derby

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

April 5th, 2014

Santa Anita race 8 | 6:38 pm ET

G1 Santa Anita Derby for 3yo going 1-1/8 mi.

1-Rprettyboyfloyd: maiden +blinks off back-to-back big races

2-Friendswith K Mill: proved ability to handle dirt & a route last out

3-Hoppertunity: G3 Rebel winner has to prove more consistent than he's been

4-Big Tire: put it all together last out

5-California Chrome: in off a combined 19 length win margin in last three outs

6-Candy Boy: freshened after big G2 Lewis win & flattered by Chitu/Midnight Hawk at Sunland

7-Schoolofhardrocks: big, beautiful horse just like his papa & needed last off the layoff

8-Dublin Up: maiden gets Desormeaux off near-miss

It's rare we have horses who've never had their winner's circle photo taken bookending a G1 prep for the Kentucky Derby... but that's exactly what we have in today's Santa Anita Derby.

The co-headliners, though, are Candy Boy and California Chrome: two uber-talented colts with Golden State pedigrees and not a lot to prove. Art Sherman has done a fantastic job with the flashy chestnut California Chrome: this marks his 10th career start, but that's what it's taken for the horse's potential to shine ~ the 19 length combined margin of his last three victories is simply sensational. And Candy Boy is no slouch either: he might not have crossed the wire in front every time, but he's really never run a bad race and he seems to be peaking at the right time.

You won't get much of a price on Hoppertunity, but he's trained well after beating a decent field in the G2 Rebel last out. I like that Baffert kept the bay son of Any Given Saturday at home and gave him the extra week of preparation instead of trying the G2 Louisiana Derby last weekend. For the exotics, I'm not willing to give up on Schoolofhardrocks just yet: a) he looks just like his daddy (who was just shy of earnings and excluded from the Derby himself 10 years ago), and b) the G2 San Felipe effort (or lack thereof) is perhaps explained by the extended layoff prior.

Molly Jo's picks: 6 - 5 - 7 - 3