Justify tries to validate the hype in the Santa Anita Derby

Precious Kentucky Derby points are on the line in Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby this Saturday. Santa Anita’s marquee event for three-year-olds, the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby offers 170 Derby points in all, with 100 going to the winner. A field of seven will compete in the ninth of 13 races at “The Great Race Place,” which has an estimated post time of 7:12 p.m. EST. The Santa Anita Derby also holds significant implications toward FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, so study carefully!

#6 JUSTIFY (4-5, morning-line favorite) has shown enormous potential in his first two starts, both effortless wins over this course. He showed no ill effects stretching out a furlong last time and should be just fine picking up another panel today. JUSTIFY has never faced a horse like BOLT D’ORO before but has talent to spare and should have things his own way up front. Mike Smith should get Bob Baffert trainee JUSTIFY home first in gate-to-wire style.

#3 BOLT D’ORO (6-5) crossed the wire second in the San Felipe last time out but was promoted to first over McKinzie. The only blemish on his career record remains his wide-trip third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile two starts ago. If BOLT D’ORO moves forward in his second start of the year he’ll be a handful in the lane under Javier Castellano. His works for this have been solid.

#1 INSTILLED REGARD (5-1) was a flat fourth in the Risen Star after taking the LeComte two-back. He skipped the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds in favor of this heat on the track where he broke his maiden. That effort was his first go at two turns. Jerry Hollendorfer has brought this one back steadily off a brief vacation and names Joel Rosario to ride.

The play: $6 trifecta 6/3/1, $4 trifecta 3/6/1 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Mounts on several short-priced favorites make Mike Smith a must-have this Saturday. In addition to JUSTIFY in the Santa Anita Derby, Smith has the call on Show It N Moe It (9-5) in the Evening Jewel, Heck Yeah (7-5) in the Echo Eddie, and Midnight Bisou (6-5) in the Santa Anita Oaks. He’ll ride in three additional races throughout the day.

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