04/17/2012 1:19PM

Santa Anita: Derive streaking, out for seventh straight win

Coady Photography
Derive, with Jorge Carreno up, wins the Coyote Handicap at Turf Paradise.

ARCADIA, Calif.– When Derive was claimed for $32,000 by owner Rick Wiest and trainer Robertino Diodoro, they thought he could become a stakes winner.

Their prediction was correct. Their latitude was way off. Derive was winless in three starts at Northlands Park in Edmonton last summer.

Switched to Turf Paradise in Arizona last fall, Derive reeled off six consecutive wins, including three stakes.

The winning streak moves to California when Derive starts in an optional claimer over six furlongs at Santa Anita on Thursday, the first day of the closing week of the winter-spring meeting. Hollywood Park opens its spring-summer meeting on April 26.

In five starts this year, Derive has earned $101,138, with much of the earnings coming from a nose win in the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup over six furlongs on Feb. 18. The results from Turf Paradise are a turnaround from his form in Alberta last summer.

“It was kind of rough for a while,” Canadian native Diodoro said. “He didn’t take a liking to the bullring. We thought he’d be a stakes horse back home. He’s had some issues, and the bullring probably didn’t help the situation.”

For most of the current winning streak, which includes wins in claiming races for $10,000 and $12,500, Derive has raced on or near the lead.

Diodoro insists the 6-year-old gelding is not reliant on that style.

“It looks like he needs the front but he doesn’t,” Diodoro said. “He didn’t get to the lead until the top of the lane in a few of those races.”

The ability to follow a horse may be vital for Derive to continue his winning streak. Thursday’s race includes the quick Saddleranch, one of two runners in the field trained by Bob Baffert. Saddleranch has won 2 of 4 starts, but was seventh as the 7-5 favorite in an optional claimer over seven furlongs on Feb. 26. A shorter distance may help Saddleranch.

“Saddleranch is fast,” Baffert said. “He’s a good horse.”

Baffert also starts Hoorahforhollywood, who was sixth in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in December and a nose winner of an optional claimer over seven furlongs on March 3.

The field has depth. Trainer John Sadler starts Courtside, the winner of the California Cup Sprint here last October. In his only start this year, Courtside was sixth as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes on a wet-fast track in January.