Dortmund put on another powerhouse display in winning Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby (G1) by four lengths over stablemate One Lucky Dane, giving Bob Baffert a one-two finish in the $1 million race and a record seventh win overall in the 1 1/8-mile contest for 3-year-olds.
Dortmund and One Lucky Dane, along with the brilliant American Pharoah, give Baffert one of his strongest hands ever going into the May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) as he seeks to win his fourth Run for the Roses.
This Saturday belonged to Dortmund though, as the massive chestnut son of 2008 Kentucky Derby champ Big Brown led from start to finish, with jockey Martin Garcia letting the colt gallop along at his own pace after breaking smartly from the rail.
One Lucky Dane was Dortmund’s closest pursuer for much of the race, but none of his five challengers posed a serious challenge in the stretch as Dortmund drew off to win by 4 ¼-lengths in 1:48.73.
One Lucky Dane finished a clear second after re-rallying at the head of the stretch, beating the well-regarded Bolo by over two lengths.
With American Pharoah and Dortmund in the same barn, the question to compare the two was inevitable.
“This is my first win in the Santa Anita Derby,” said Martin Garcia of his win with Dortmund. “Even though he’s won all his races, he’s still learning. When someone comes to him, or I ask him to go, he becomes push-button and he just takes off.
“I never had the chance to ride American Pharoah except in his first time out. But American Pharoah just drags me in the morning (Garcia is his regular exercise rider); wherever you want to go, however far you want to go, he drags you there. Dortmund, just gallops along, but he isn’t aggressive about it. They’re different in that way but they’re both very good horses.”
“The feeling is like we’ve been here before; just enjoy the moment because the next race (Kentucky Derby on May 2) is going to be the one,” said Baffert about Dortmund. “It’s good to see this horse just really developing the way he has from his first start. I just love the way he ran today.
“This is the time of the year where we take nothing for granted, we work hard, we have a great team and American Pharoah (who runs in next Saturday’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby) is doing fantastic. We want to get there in top form and healthy. That’s the battle right there. We have good horses. I can’t believe I’m so fortunate to be in this position with two outstanding 3-year-olds like I have.”
Baffert didn’t discount One Lucky Dane’s chances in Louisville, however.
“One Lucky Dane, he’s a good horse. He showed that last time (winning an allowance race by 10 lengths on March 19). This distance (1 ¼-mile Derby) is not going to be a problem for him. He’ll go to the (Kentucky) Derby. He qualified in Bob Baffert’s eyes (in addition to points). I don’t need 40 points. They’ve got to qualify in my eyes.”
Baffert was referring to the 40 Kentucky Derby qualifying points One Lucky Dane earned on Saturday, which currently places him in 15th on the eligibility list. The top 20 horses automatically get in the Derby starting gate. Dortmund ranks second with 170 and American Pharoah 9th with 60, pending the Arkansas Derby outcome.