Shapiro: How to bet the Twilight Derby

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TwinSpires Staff

October 27th, 2017

By Scott Shapiro

The final weekend of the short Santa Anita autumn meeting is upon us. It has been a solid few weeks of racing filled with a plethora of wagering opportunities after an uneven first half of the year at “The Great Race Place.”

The racing office has constructed a pair of strong cards to close the 19-day meet headlined by the Grade 2 Twilight Derby run as the ninth race on Saturday afternoon. The $200,000 event is contested at a mile and an eighth over the Santa Anita lawn and attracted a competitive field of 11 with horses shipping in from the East Coast and the Midwest to take on some of the best three-year-old turf runners on the West Coast.

#6 Sharp Samurai is the deserving 7-2-morning line favorite having won 5 of 7 starts in 2017 for trainer Mark Glatt, including victories this summer in the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap and most recently in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens has been able to relax the son of First Samurai and make wide sweeping moves in consecutive starts good enough to get him to the wire first.

I respect Sharp Samurai, but also am concerned with the style that Stevens has adopted of late. I feel like his lack of desire to save ground and instead keep this gelding wide throughout is due to catch up to him even though it worked quite well at Del Mar in his last two.

#3 Big Score was unable to beat Sharp Samurai last time out in the Del Mar Derby, but that in large part was due to the riding of Flavian Prat. I was quite surprised that Prat let Stevens get the jump on him last month and expect the Frenchman to be more assertive this time around.

The George Krikorian homebred has run well over the Santa Anita lawn with a win in the Zuma Beach Stakes last October and then a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf a month later. With an inside draw and a more aggressive approach I expect the Tim Yakteen runner to “turn the tables” on Sharp Samural.

I will make Big Score my key horse in the 6th running of the Twilight Derby and hope to catch one of three horses that should offer value in the vertical wagers with him for second or third.

#1 Cistron has been unable to find the winner’s circle since his win over the Oaklawn Park main track in April, but his early speed has allowed him to hang around for a minor share in each of his last two starts routing over the lawn. At 20-1 I will hope his early zip will allow him to stick around for another check.

#2 Cowboy Culture ships to the West Coast for high percentage conditioner Brad Cox. The Kentucky bred found room between runners in the lane and pulled away late in the $200,000 Centaur at Indiana Grand. Cox would not ship him to Southern California if he was not doing well.

#7 Troublewithatee has found a home going long on the grass in 2017., winning two straight since trainer Phil D’Amato turned to veteran Corey Nakatani. He looks overmatched based on numbers but has shown the ability to get the distance and perform well over this surface. If the son of Into Mischief moves forward off of his two straight wins he could pick up the pieces at a big price.

Here is how I will wager on the Saturday’s Twilight Derby:

$25 Win 3 (if 4-1 or higher) = $25

$4 Exacta Wheel 3 with 1+2+7 = $12

$1 Trifecta Wheel 3 with 1+2+7 with 1+2+4+5+6+7+8+9 = $21

$2 Trifecta Wheel 3 with 1+2+4+5+6+7+8+9 with 1+2+7 = $42

Total Budget: $100

Good luck at the windows!

You can find my full card Daily Selections each and every day for the Southern California circuit, including full card analysis of Breeders’ Cup week at Del Mar here: