Iliad should produce epic performance in Santa Anita Derby

This Saturday’s feature on a stakes-packed card at Santa Anita is the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby. It’s Race 8 on an 11-race program, and it drew a field of 13. A total of 170 Kentucky Derby points will be awarded to the top four finishers, with 100 going to the victor. Post time for 1 1/8th-mile Santa Anita Derby is 6:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to try out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game in addition to watching and wagering!

#9 ILIAD (7-2, morning-line favorite) returns after running second to the brilliant Mastery in the San Felipe last time out. ILIAD was three-wide that day but stayed on well enough for second while out-finishing TERM OF ART and GORMLEY. His San Vicente win proves he belongs at this level and his tune-up work for this was strong. Doug O’Neill names Flavien Prat to ride the top choice once more.

#1 TERM OF ART (12-1), another O’Neill runner, merits inclusion at a square price under Tyler Baze. He exits a career-best performance in the San Felipe despite a bobble at the start. He should get a similar setup in the Santa Anita Derby.

#3 BATTLE OF MIDWAY (5-1) and #2 REACH THE WORLD (5-1) were heads apart when they met on Mar. 9, with the former getting the win despite a three-wide trip. ‘MIDWAY, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, loses Prat but picks up Corey Nakatani off a sizzling final work for this. REACH THE WORLD, a Bob Baffert trainee, is bound to attract attention at the windows, as he’s been well-hyped to start his career. He’s been solid but not spectacular in three starts, so it’s hard to endorse him in the top spot, even with Hall-of-Famer Mike Smith aboard.

The play: $3 exacta 9/1,2,3 ($9)

DFJ analysis: Mike Smith has six mounts and looks like a sensible option on this Saturday card. He rides three program favorites; Cascade Kid (Race 3), Abel Tasman (Santa Anita Oaks) and Sircat Sally (Providencia Stakes). REACH THE WORLD is a live mount for Smith in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, as is Prize Exhibit (4-1) in the Royal Heroine Mile.

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