04/01/2014 2:41PM

Santa Anita Derby: Big Tire aims for top four finish

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Big Tire, winner of a one-mile maiden race, will step way up the class ladder for Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

When Big Tire starts in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the colt will be trainer Mark Glatt’s second runner in a seven-figure race.

Back in 2006, New Joysey Jeff finished 12th behind Lawyer Ron in the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

“It’s only fun if you do halfway decent,” Glatt said. “Otherwise, it doesn’t mean diddly.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Big Tire will make his stakes debut in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby over 1 1/8 miles. Glatt has said repeatedly that he wants to try Big Tire, a son of Candy Ride who won his maiden going a mile, at longer distances.

At the same time, Glatt is realistic in his expectations, stating Big Tire needs considerable improvement to compete against the stakes winners California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Hoppertunity, who will be the first three choices in the betting.

“Obviously, fourth or better would be a victory of some kind,” Glatt said. “Going into it, I feel like my horse is fourth best in the race.

“It depends on how much he improves. If we run third on Saturday, we need one of the top three not to run their top races. Third or fourth would be good for us.”

Many owners and trainers with runners in the Santa Anita Derby are dreaming of the Kentucky Derby on May 3. Glatt wonders if the Belmont Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on June 7 may be a better goal for Big Tire.

“How he runs Saturday will dictate a lot of what we do,” he said. “He could be a mile and a half in the Belmont, potentially. I think he could run that far.”

The Santa Anita Derby has a field of eight probable starters. Schoolofhardrocks, making his first start since August, was fourth behind California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 8. Friendswith K Mill was second in an allowance to The Admiral on March 16. Rprettyboyfloyd and Dublin Up, second and third behind Big Tire on March 7, are the other candidates.

Four stakes on undercard

The Santa Anita Derby is the top race on a program that features five stakes. First post time is noon Pacific.

Saturday’s $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks is expected to have a small field, including Arethusa, Artemis, Fashion Plate, Honey Ride, and Ria Antonia.

The other stakes on Saturday are the $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf, and two $200,000 races for California-bred 3-year-olds over 6 1/2 furlongs – the Echo Eddie Stakes and Evening Jewel Stakes for fillies.

Ken O'Hanna More than 1 year ago
Big Tire will win this race with incredible odds.............write it down
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Hoppertunity could be a tired horse, but maybe not. This will certainly give a gauge as to how the West coast runners stack up, because he beat a bunch from the other side of America. You still have to wait for Bayern and Social Inclusion to run to figure the Kentucky Derby possilbilities. One of those two could be a monster. The other Derbies didn't answer many questions for me. I thought they both showed less than stellar candidates for the big one. Sure wish Shared Belief was still on the KD road, but maybe Social Inclusion is the east coast version of him.
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
It takes a very good horse to do what Constitution did in just his third start. Most lightly raced 2yr olds would have folded after being rank and not wanting to settle for the first half mile and then race inside against the fence with the outside horse leaning in. He's talented, gutsy and long winded. Legit threat for the roses.
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Why's everyone ignoring the Rat, samraat? That horse puts his nose down and keeps on running. Just cause they buried him at A duct doesn't mean he's not a competitor. What i want to see is Wildcat Red against the Cali horses. Red's another tough sunamare.
Jeffrey Lux More than 1 year ago
What happened to Baffert,s horse Indianapolis? I thought he was in the KY derby prep picture.
John Pisiona More than 1 year ago
Unrealistic trainer
prlyr4lyf More than 1 year ago
If cc doesn't make a mockery of this crackerjack field the roses will be drapped on a east coast contender on the first saturday in may!
MD23 More than 1 year ago
Big Tire is running for fifth. He beat RPrettyboyFloyd, who doesn't want to win and Dublin Up.....who is an average maiden. CC, Candy Boy, Hoppertunity, and Schoolfohardrocks are all better than him at this stage. Big Tire can be a nice little horse for sure... but not at this level.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
The interesting thing about California Chrome is he tends not to get over bet. His last run may be interpreted by some as showing he is keen and needs the lead. Hoppertunity - could go favored or close to it. CC has already soundly defeated Candy Boy and while that one is on the improve so is CC. Obviously H deserves respect, but he did ship, run huge, and ship back and now train hard. At the turn for home California Chrome will leave these like a group of tired claimers.
Biz P More than 1 year ago
California Chrome will be even money this saturday at best.
John Burton More than 1 year ago
Boy, the fields in Saturday's racecard at Santa Anita Race Park on Santa Anita Derby day sure seem small! I'm disappointed from a betting point of view. To quote a parenthetical expression often repeated by professional handicappers, "that being said," I still look forward to the outcome of the Santa Anita Derby with its three or four top horses!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Average field size for Saturday is 10.1. How is that small? Thats got to be the highest avg field size they have had since Breeders Cup weekend.
Mike Rutledge More than 1 year ago
I think it's either California Chrome or Candy Boy.
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
Why not take the next logical step? Non winners of 2. I never understand why guys want to throw their animals to the wolves. Who is he going to finish in front of? Dublin Again and maybe Rprettyboyfloyd. I suppose if he sits last and Chrome, Hoppertunity, Candy Boy and School of Hard Rocks battle 4 wide to the 3/4 pole in 108 and change he could win?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Money has something to do with it. The horse runs 3rd and it gets 100k. That's like winning a grade 2 race worth 175k. He runs 4th and gets 50k, which is better than winning an allowance. But if he runs worse than that, they may wish they were in that allowance.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
Solid post. Lawrence's point is real too - putting horses in above their heads does not always lead to further success. Getting tossed to the wolves takes a bite out of a horse's psyche.
D'Funnybone More than 1 year ago
The owners want to see their horses loaded in the starting gate the 1st Saturday in May. If they believe that their horse has some ability, they will pressure the trainer to put the horse in an unrealistic spot, to hopefully earn enough points to charter a trip to Louisville on Derby day.
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with you and I wasn't really faulting Mark Glatt. I figured the owners were wanting to take a shot. Off hand I don't remember who owns him. I just think if you have a horse that takes numerous races to break his maiden and then does against a week group keep him sound and local and try to make some money.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Lawrence, you pose a good question. He is in deep water, but it's probably the 1m purse that is making these guys enter. They may look at it as a Nx2 that you could finish 4th and still collect a large sum.