04/02/2015 12:51PM

Dortmund gets more ground in Santa Anita Derby

Benoit & Associates
Dortmund won the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe in March, and trainer Bob Baffert thinks he'll run better in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – He stands more than 17 hands tall and weighs almost 1,200 pounds. In every way, Dortmund has towered over his rivals in Santa Anita’s Kentucky Derby preps this winter and spring. His physical presence is imposing, as is his perfect race record. And now that he gets to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles Saturday in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, his advantage could be more pronounced.

“I think it’s going to be so much better for him,” said his trainer, Bob Baffert. “He’s tall, lanky, light-barreled, with that long stride.”

Yet while Dortmund unquestionably has accomplished more than any horse in this race, he is facing several rivals who also appear to be improving. Prospect Park and Bolo chased Dortmund home in the San Felipe Stakes last month, and both have reasons to move forward off that race. In addition, One Lucky Dane – like Dortmund trained by Baffert – comes off an impressive 3-year-old debut, crushing allowance foes.


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Cross the Line and Bad Read Sanchez will be outsiders. There are only six runners, the smallest field of the three major Kentucky Derby preps run across the nation Saturday. But in terms of quality, this is the deepest field, with four members of the Derby Watch top 20.

“When they start going a mile and an eighth, this is when the cream starts separating,” Baffert said.

Dortmund drew the rail, with One Lucky Dane right alongside. There is no reason to get cute here. Dortmund likely will go for the lead, and One Lucky Dane will track him. The only horse capable of throwing a wrench into that scenario is Bad Read Sanchez, who figures to show speed from the outside in his first start since August and his first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. But if he clears the Baffert pair, Dortmund should be able to get outside and stalk, as One Lucky Dane wouldn’t be a candidate to keep him trapped.

The Santa Anita Derby is the eighth race on an 11-race card that begins at noon Pacific and includes five other stakes, most notably the Grade 1, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks each offer 170 qualifying points overall, including 100 to the winner, toward respective berths in the May 2 Kentucky Derby and May 1 Kentucky Oaks.

The Santa Anita Derby also is the anchor leg of a live two-hour telecast on NBCSN, beginning at 2 p.m., which will include the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland and the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct.

:: DRF Live: Watch live handicapping analysis of Saturday’s biggest races, starting at 2:00 p.m. Eastern


Dortmund (Last 3 Beyers: 104-104-91)

◗ He has been highly regarded since before he ever ran and has lived up to the notice, with five wins in five starts, each as the favorite. He figures to be odds-on for the fifth straight time in this race.

◗ Dortmund’s toughest test this meet came in his race before last, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, when he re-rallied to beat Firing Line, who subsequently won the Sunland Derby.

“If he gets headed, we know how that turns out,” Baffert said.

◗ Dortmund gave five pounds (123-118) to Prospect Park and Bolo under the conditions of the San Felipe. They all carry 122 this time.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Dortmund. Trainer Bob Baffert is 13-1-1-0 with a $0.31 ROI over the past five years with 3-year-olds in dirt route graded stakes in the third start following a layoff. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Prospect Park (Last 3 Beyers: 102-93-78)

◗ He has made more progress than any local 3-year-old at this meet, going from a moderate maiden win Dec. 27 to a terrific runner-up performance in the San Felipe last time.

◗ He has continued to train well since that race, so there’s every reason to believe he has another forward move in him.

Bolo (Last 3 Beyers: 101-88-83)

◗ The San Felipe was his first start on dirt and his first race in two months, and he came into the race with a work schedule that was interrupted by rain. He’s been able to stay on schedule for this race, giving him the right to improve, too.

“We were pushed to make that race,” trainer Carla Gaines said Thursday. “Maybe he won’t improve. But I certainly think he will.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 Bolo. Trainer Carla Gaines is 16-1-2-4 with a $0.43 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes in the second start following a layoff. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

One Lucky Dane (Last 3 Beyers: 97-87-95)

◗ He got a career-best Beyer Speed Figure when returning from a 4 1/2-month layoff to win against allowance company March 19. He’s back in just 16 days but had little choice if he was to be given a chance to make the Kentucky Derby.

“He needs to run one-two-three,” Baffert said. “The distance should be in his favor. The farther, the better.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 One Lucky Dane. Trainer Bob Baffert is 10-2-2-3 with a $2.10 ROI over the past five years with 3-year-olds in dirt route graded stakes in the second start following a layoff. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Cross the Line (Last 3 Beyers: 82-79-70)

◗ His Beyers have improved with every start, but he’s never faced horses of this caliber or raced on dirt.

Bad Read Sanchez (Last 3 Beyers: 74-69-75)

◗ This is an ambitious spot considering his inactivity and the quality of his rivals, but he should impact the pace.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Bad Read Sanchez. Trainer Doug O’Neill is 31-0-6-3 over the past five years in routes following a layoff of 180 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan