03/18/2011 2:27PM

Brad Free's Santa Anita Derby rankings - March 18


Premier Pegasus rocketed to the top of the Santa Anita Derby rankings list after an authoritative triumph March 12 in the Grade 2 San Felipe. Stretching out following a sharp third-place comeback behind The Factor and Sway Away in a seven-furlong sprint, Premier Pegasus went long for the first time and drew off by 7 3/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile race. His time was 1:41.23; he earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

There is no doubt that if he reproduces his smashing San Felipe win, Premier Pegasus can win the Santa Anita Derby on April 9, possibly as the favorite. Taking blinkers off, Premier Pegasus rated kindly three wide midpack, cruised three wide to the lead passing the quarter pole, and ran away while strong to the wire. Bred, owned, and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, Premier Pegasus improved to 4 for 5 in his career and jumped from unranked on the Santa Anita Derby rankings to No. 1.

Silver Medallion, winner of the El Camino Real Derby, drops from the top spot to No. 2 because of the emergence of Premier Pegasus. Anthony's Cross and Riveting Reason, one-two finishers in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, move up to No. 3 and No. 4.

Comma to the Top pressed the hot pace (44.58 and 1:08.98) in the San Felipe and paid the price. It is unclear whether he is Santa Anita Derby-caliber, but his effort marked an improvement over his comeback. Comma to the Top made the lead after six furlongs, then weakened through the lane and finished fourth. He ran better than the second- and third-place San Felipe finishers, Jaycito and Bench Points, who merely picked up pieces.

Now that Runflatout and Albergatti are probably out of the picture after finishing last and next-to-last in the San Felipe, Comma to the Top could be the controlling speed in the Santa Anita Derby.

Jaycito fizzled in the San Felipe, his first start in four months. Maybe he needed the start. Maybe he will improve. Or maybe he is not good enough. He drops to No. 6. Jaycito can move forward when he makes his second start back, but he did not run well in the San Felipe. Considering the fast pace, he should have made a stronger late impact. The question going into the Santa Anita Derby - is Jaycito overrated?

Mr. Commons stays at No. 7, and another recent maiden winner shows up on the list for the first time. Red Sharp Humor won his maiden the hard way Feb. 26, by pressing or setting a fast pace and digging in through the lane. Jerry Hollendorfer trains Red Sharp Humor, a son of Sharp Humor who would be a worthy longshot contender if he shows up in the Santa Anita Derby.

Astrology and Bench Points complete the top 10, though Astrology is expected to make his 2011 debut out of town. Plans for Bench Points, third in the San Felipe, were to be determined.

Santa Anita Derby rankings

1. Premier Pegasus
2. Silver Medallion
3. Anthony's Cross
4. Riveting Reason
5. Comma to the Top
6. Jaycito
7. Mr. Commons
8. Red Sharp Humor
9. Astrology
10. Bench Points