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Top Horses To Watch And Bet On In 2021 Santa Anita Derby

The 2021 Santa Anita Derby heads a 12 race card Saturday that includes six stakes races from ‘The Great Race Place’. The major Kentucky Derby prep race is always worth watching, as trainer Bob Baffert has won the race a record nine times and has two 3-year-old contenders in this year’s race. Two Hall of Fame jockey’s are riding Baffert’s runners with John Velazques aboard the favorite Medina Spirit (5/2), and Mike Smith in the saddle of Defunded (8/1).

Medina Spirit is already inside the top-20 on the Twinspires Kentucky Derby leaderboard, but a top-3 finish will add to his 34 points total and secure his spot in the Run for the Roses on May 1 at Churchill Downs. Defunded makes his stakes debut in just his third start, but Top Race Reports lead handicapper Rob Heine of the West Coast Handicapping Report suggests he has a chance to pull the upset as a rapidly improving colt and son of 2011 Florida Derby winner Dialed In.

Heine also makes a case to include Dream Shake (7/2) as a winner and in vertical and horizontal wagers. Dream Shake is ridden by Santa Anita’s leading jockey, Flavien Prat. Also, Top Race Reports notes that rapidly improving Rock Your World (4/1) is 2-for-2 on the turf and trainer Jon Sadler moves him to the dirt in an interesting placement.

The Santa Anita Derby is part of a 20 Cent Rainbow Pick Six offering that is projected to reach $5 million with a mandatory payout on Saturday, April. 3. The Santa Anita Derby is Race 8 with post time at 7:15 p.m. ET. It’s part of the simulcast TV coverage on NBCSN from 5:30-7:30 pm. ET that includes the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

TwinSpires, the country’s leading online and mobile betting platform and the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, provides online betting tools and handicapper insight on horse racing and the biggest races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

A total of 19 Kentucky Derby winners also raced in the Santa Anita Derby, and some of the Sport of Kings greats have won it – Sham, Affirmed, Winning Colors, Sunday Silence, A.P. Indy, Point Given, Pioneerof the Nile, I’ll Have Another, Goldencent, California Chrome, Exaggerator and Justify. 

Three of the last nine Santa Anita Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby four weeks later. That includes Bob Baffert’s Triple Crown winner Justify in 2018, who won his stakes debut in the Santa Anita Derby and then swept the three Triple Crown races in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Baffer’s horses have finished runner-up each of the last two years in the Santa Anita Derby, but last year’s second place finisher Authentic went on to win both the rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Added notes on the Santa Anita Derby favorite from Horse Racing Nation and Super Screener reports that Medina Spirit underwent a throat procedure for a slightly entrapped epiglottis. That followed his runner-up finish in Grade II San Felipe Stakes last month to stablemate Life Is Good, who was a Kentucky Derby favorite but is now sidelined for a few months with left hind injury suffered during training.

That’s the potential risk of betting ahead of the Run for the Roses in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools. Life is Good was the heavy favorite coming out of pool 4 in early March, and future bettors at Twinspires and other leading online racing platforms are now left holding the reins of qualified Derby runner who won’t be in the starting gate.

But Medina Spirit and one or two other Santa Anita Derby runners will be in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. That makes the Santa Anita Derby and other major prep races worth watching as you make your bets and evaluate more horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

You can bet on it.

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