Game Winner at Santa Anita Highlights Big Day of Kentucky Derby Preps

Posted on: April 6, 2019, 06:35h. 

Last updated on: April 6, 2019, 06:35h.

The biggest day on the Road to the Kentucky Derby has arrived. Saturday features 1-1/8-mile prep races in California, Kentucky, and New York worth 100 points each to the winners, and Game Winner gets a chance to cement his status as the favorite in next month’s Run for the Roses.

Game Winner (front left), seen here winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is the morning line favorite in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.  (Image: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

Game Winner, a Bob Baffert-trained colt, starts as the 4-5 morning line favorite in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. While the field at California’s Santa Anita Park features just six horses, it features several quality horses.

Roadster, another Baffert horse, comes into the race with a lot of buzz but 0 qualifying points. He’ll need at least a second-place finish, worth 40 points, to likely secure his spot in the May 4 Kentucky Derby. His morning line odds are 5-2.

Roadster and Game Winner, whose spot in the Kentucky Derby seems secure already, drew the inside and outside gates, respectively.

I would have liked to have seen Roadster on the outside and Game Winner on the inside,” Baffert said after the post draw. “Seriously, I’m just glad that we’re in there. It’s a very important race, more important for Roadster, who has to get some points.”

Also needing at least a second-place showing is Instagrand. After winning his first two starts, he finished third in last month’s Gotham Stakes. Drayden Van Dyke returns to the saddle for the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt, who will run from the fifth gate and has morning line odds are 3-1.

Wood Memorial

A couple of March prep winners come into New York’s Aqueduct Saturday seeking a win in the Grade II Wood Memorial to raise their profile for next month’s big race.

Tacitus, who ran impressively in winning the Tampa Bay Derby, comes in as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the 11-horse field. The Bill Mott-trained colt will start from the second gate.

Tacitus’ sire, Tapit, won the Wood 15 years ago, and his dam, Close Hatches, won seven graded stakes in her career.

“Top stallions and top mares are supposed to produce good horses like this,” said Garret O’Rourke, general manager for Juddmonte Farms, which owns Tacitus. “He’s a horse that is bred to be a classic racehorse.”

Gotham winner Haikal is the second choice at 7-2. He runs from the fourth gate. Both he and Tacitus already have enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby.

Another horse to keep an eye on is Tax. Trained by Danny Gargan, the gelding drew the inside gate and has 9-2 morning line odds. He won his last race, a graded stakes race, two months ago and has finished in the money in all four career starts.

Blue Grass Stakes

Vekoma leads the field of 14 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. None of the entrants in the Grade II Toyota Blue Grass Stakes currently have their spots secured for the Derby.

Trained by George Weaver, Vekoma won both of his starts as a 2-year-old. He came off a four-month layoff to run in the Fountain of Youth Stakes a month ago at Gulfstream, where he finished third. He will start from the second gate with morning line odds of 9-5.

Win Win Win, coming off a third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby, is the second choice at 7-2. Under trainer Michael Trombetta, the colt has won three of his five starts, but none of those wins have come in graded stakes competition.

Signalman finished seventh in the Fountain of Youth, his 3-year-old debut. Last year, trainer Kenny McPeek’s colt finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and won the Kentucky Jockey Club. He’ll start from the third gate, with morning line odds of 5-1.

The Wood Memorial runs at 6 pm ET, with post time at the Blue Grass set for 6:23 pm ET. The Santa Anita Derby will run at 7:14 pm ET. All races will be shown on NBC Sports Network.