Ten Things You Should Know: Santa Anita Derby
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The Santa Anita Derby is a Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-olds run at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. This year’s edition is part of the Kentucky Derby qualifying system with points being awarded to the top four finishers.
2) The race was run for the first time in 1935. Whiskolo, the second-place finisher in the inaugural running, went on to finish third in the Kentucky Derby. The race has been run every year except 1942, 1943, and 1944, when Santa Anita Park was closed and used as a Japanese-American internment camp during the Second World War.
3) All but five editions of the race have been run at 1 1/8 miles. From 1935 to 1938, the race was run at 1 1/16 miles. The 1947 edition, won by a colt named On Trust, was run at the distance of 1 1/4 miles.
4) In 80 runnings, ten horses have won both the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby. The first came in 1952 with Hill Gail. The last to pull the historic double was California Chrome in 2014. In 2012 I’ll Have Another broke a 23 year drought of Kentucky Derby winning Santa Anita Derby winners.
5) A total of three fillies have won the Santa Anita Derby. Ciencia was the first to do it in 1938. Winning Colors is the last filly to do so; she is also the last filly to win the Kentucky Derby.
6) Over 61,000 fans witnessed Silky Sullivan win the 1958 Santa Anita Derby after trailing by 28 lengths early in the race. Silky Sullivan’s exciting, late-running style made him one of the most popular horses of his day. He is one of only two horses buried in the infield at Golden Gate Fields, where he has a stakes race named in his honor.
7) In 1973, Sham tied the Santa Anita Derby stakes record winning time of 1:47. Sham had the unfortunate luck to share his 3-year-old season with Secretariat. Sham ran second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to the eventual Triple Crown winner.
8) In 1998 and 1999, the second-place finishers of the Santa Anita Derby both went on to win two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Silver Charm and Real Quiet won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but lost the Belmont. Real Quiet lost his bid in a photo finish to Victory Gallop.
9) Jockey Gary Stevens holds the most wins in the Santa Anita Derby. His nine career victories came in a span of just 16 years from 1988 to 2003–that’s a remarkable win rate of 56%. In 2013, St. Croix native Kevin Krigger became the first black jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby.
10) Bob Baffert has the most Santa Anita Derby training wins. He won his first in 1996 and his most recent came in 2015. He won three of four in a stretch from 1998 to 2001. His 2001 winner, Point Given, went on to win the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.