TEMECULA, Calif. (April 5, 2018) – Want to get a sneak peek at who could win the Kentucky Derby on May 5? Want to watch and wager on what is always one of the foremost Kentucky Derby prep races in the nation?
That would be the Santa Anita Derby, which headlines a mammoth 12-race card from The Great Race Place on Saturday, April 7. And the Pechanga OTB parlor is again illustrating why it is the ideal place to watch and wager on the Santa Anita Derby and the six other stakes races simulcast live from Santa Anita Park.
Located inside the Poker Room on the second floor above Pechanga’s spacious casino, Pechanga OTB is offering a special menu to guests on Santa Anita Derby Day. For $10.95, guests have their choice of Carved Roast Brisket or Baked Chicken with Brown Gravy and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Vegetables, along with accompaniments such as Macaroni Salad and Assorted Fruit.
Again, this illustrates the value of watching the biggest races in the country at Pechanga OTB. What makes Pechanga OTB the place to watch and wager on the Santa Anita Derby and the six other stakes races that day is that unlike other OTB rooms around Southern California, there is no admission charge at Pechanga OTB. Nor is there a charge for coffee, sodas or water.
“This is going to be an amazing day of racing and this race shows you why,” said Richie Lopez, Pechanga’s assistant director of the poker room and OTB parlor. ”Every horseplayer knows the Santa Anita Derby is one of the best Kentucky Derby preview races in the country and we have everything in place for our guests to enjoy the experience of seeing some of the top 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls in action.”
The $1 million Santa Anita Derby is considered the West Coast’s top tune-up race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Since its inception in 1935, 10 Santa Anita Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, a winner’s roll that includes 1978 champion Affirmed, who went on to win the Triple Crown, 1988 winner Winning Colors, who became the first and to date, only, filly to win both the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another (2012) and California Chrome (2014), who demolished the Santa Anita Derby field to win by 5 ¼ lengths.
At 1 1/4 miles, the Santa Anita Derby is the same distance as the Kentucky Derby. It has produced two of the last six Derby winners and three of the last six Preakness winners.
Seven horses are entered for this year’s Santa Anita Derby, including Bolt d’Oro, one of the Kentucky Derby favorites. Bolt d’Oro captured the San Felipe Stakes in early March after his rival, McKinzie, was disqualified for impeding Bolt d’Oro at the top of the stretch.
McKinzie was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby earlier in the week with an injury and was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail by his trainer, Hall-of-Famer Bob Baffert, who has won the Santa Anita Derby seven times.
But into that breach galloped another candidate from Baffert’s endless barn of prospects: Justify, who – despite the fact he has never started a graded stakes race – was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite and will start from the No. 6 spot. What justified Justify’s favorite status was his dominating performances in his first two races, when he buried the field by 9 ½ lengths in his Feb. 18 debut, then came back in his second race March 11 and romped to a 6 ½-length victory in an allowance race.
What will justify Justify’s spot in the Kentucky Derby field will be a first- or second-place finish Saturday, because he has no Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The Santa Anita Derby awards 100 points to the winner, 40 for second place, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. The usual qualifying threshold is 40 points, although with a 20-horse field, some horses get in with fewer.
This is not a problem for Bolt d’Oro, who brings 64 points into his No. 3 spot Saturday and is already assured a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Despite the fact Bolt d’Oro has a much better resume than Justify: four victories – including three in graded stakes races — and a third in five starts, he opens at 6-5 on the morning line.
The other horse to watch is Instilled Regard, who opens at 5-1 on the morning line starting from the dreaded No. 1 post. He has 19 Kentucky Derby points, so a top-three finish probably sends him to Churchill Downs. But which Instilled Regard shows up? The one who won the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds in Louisiana in January? Or the one who finished a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the Risen Star Stakes a month later on the same track?
There are six other stakes races at Santa Anita that day, including the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Pechanga OTB opens at 10 a.m. First post for Saturday’s card is 11:30 a.m.
Pechanga OTB is open Wednesday through Monday, with live simulcasts from America’s best racetracks featured on 22 flat-screens and on individual monitors at several of the 72 comfortable seats. Special events are planned for racing’s biggest days, which means for more information on the numerous promotions, please see www.pechanga.com.