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Do you know 19 horses have used the Santa Anita Derby (G1) as a springboard to victory within the Kentucky Derby? The 1 1/8-mile race has lengthy ranked among the many most prestigious and productive qualifiers for the Run for the Roses, with a roster of winners that reads like a who’s who of champions and Corridor of Fame inductees.
Rating the best Santa Anita Derby winners of all time is a tough process. Slim it right down to the highest 5, and runners as gifted as Level Given (2001), Profitable Colours (1988), Majestic Prince (1969), A.P. Indy (1992) and Sham (1973) arguably fail to make the reduce.
Right here’s my tackle the highest 5 –all are Kentucky Derby winners, and all appear destined to wind up within the Corridor of Fame, in the event that they haven’t already been inducted. See in the event you agree or disagree with my rankings.
5. California Chrome (2014)
California Chrome’s first Grade 1 win got here by 5 1/4 lengths within the Santa Anita Derby, when he reached the end line in a quick 1:47.52 – simply 0.52 off the stakes document. By the point California Chrome retired, he’d added half a dozen extra Grade 1 wins to his adorned resume, together with victories within the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Dubai World Cup (G1). A two-time Horse of the Yr, California Chrome retired with earnings of $14,752,650, simply establishing him because the richest California-bred racehorse of all time.
4. Justify (2018)
Throughout a profession spanning Feb. 18 via June 9, Justify began six occasions and by no means tasted defeat. A front-running, three-length rating within the Santa Anita Derby served as a prelude to a sweep of the Triple Crown, throughout which Justify grew to become the primary horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby with out racing as a 2-year-old. Solely the truth that Justify retired after his Belmont triumph retains him from rating greater on the record of all-time Santa Anita Derby greats.
3. Sunday Silence (1989)
Sunday Silence may need fallen brief in his bid to brush the 1989 Triple Crown, however by the tip of his sophomore season he’d rattled off Grade 1 triumphs within the Santa Anita Derby (by 11 lengths), the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Tremendous Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Basic to rank as Horse of the Yr. Later a breed-shaping sire in Japan, Sunday Silence deserves bonus factors for defeating fellow Corridor of Fame inductee Simple Goer in three of their 4 conferences – neither California Chrome nor Justify engaged in an ongoing rivalry with a horse of such elite expertise.
2. Swaps (1955)
With the advantage of hindsight, it’s onerous to imagine Swaps needed to be put to a drive to win the Santa Anita Derby by half a size. By the point the sensible chestnut retired, he had received 19 of his 25 begins, set or equaled 10 observe data, dominated a big share of California’s most essential races and overwhelmed fellow Corridor of Fame inductee Nashua within the Kentucky Derby. One mile in 1:33.2, 1 1/16 miles in 1:39, 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.8, 1 1/4 miles in 1:58.6, 1 5/8 miles in 2:38.2. These are just some of the data Swaps set throughout his adorned profession, and the lattermost clocking nonetheless stands because the North American commonplace for dust.
1. Affirmed (1978)
A winner in 22 of his 29 begins. A 14-time Grade 1 winner. An earner of $2,393,818, changing into the primary Thoroughbred to ever crack the multimillion-dollar mark. A champion at age 2, 3 and 4, boasting two Horse of the Yr titles. A Triple Crown winner thanks to 3 heart-pounding traditional victories over arch rival and fellow Corridor of Famer Alydar. Few horses have ever achieved as a lot as Affirmed, who is just not solely the best Santa Anita Derby winner in historical past, but in addition one of many biggest total Thoroughbreds to ever set foot on a racetrack.
J. Keeler Johnson is a author, videographer, handicapper and all-around horse racing fanatic. A terrific fan of racing historical past, he considers Dr. Fager to be the best racehorse ever produced in America, however counts Zenyatta as his all-time favourite. You’ll be able to comply with him on Twitter at @J_Keelerman.