Despite injury, Bob Baffert still has the Santa Anita Derby favourite

Trainer Bob Baffert was looking to qualify a stable full of horses for the Kentucky Derby, but his best bet has been sidelined with an injury.

Instead of Life Is Good leading the way in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, it will be his stablemate Medina Spirit as the favourite in the 100-40-20-10 qualifier.

With 34 points, Medina Spirit is probably in need of a fourth-place finish or better to ensure an invitation to the Triple Crown opener on May 1. He is at 9/5 odds to win at Santa Anita, and his only two career losses are to Life Is Good, who isn't in the 10-horse field.

Medina Spirit's win in a qualifying race came in the 10-4-2-1 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on January 30.

Challengers to Medina Spirit

Honor A.P. won the 2020 Santa Anita Derby, ridden by Mike Smith
Honor A.P. won the 2020 Santa Anita Derby, ridden by Mike Smith

At 3/1 odds is Dream Shake, a third-place finisher who picked up 10 points in the 50-20-10-5 San Felipe Stakes on March 6 behind Life Is Good and Medina Spirit. It was his stakes and Kentucky Derby qualifying debut and was only the second career race for the Peter Eurton-trained colt who broke his maiden on February 7 at Santa Anita in his first start. With just two races under his belt, it's hard to gauge whether he can duplicate that San Felipe run.

Rock Your World is an interesting entry at 6/1 who is making the transition from turf to dirt. He broke his maiden at Santa Anita on New Year's Day, then won the Pasadena Stakes at the same track on February 27 against a five-horse field. Those odds are likely coming with a local track bias as there is a lot working against a horse taking a step up in class and changing surfaces for the first time.

The fifth-place finisher in the San Felipe Stakes was The Great One, whose four qualifying points came as a runner-up to Spielberg in the Los Alamitos Futurity on December 19. His performances so far don't seem to justify 8/1 odds against a field as strong as this one. He's shown speed in the past but was clearly outclassed in the San Felipe against some of the same horses entered in the Santa Anita Derby.

Watch out for the 10/1 shots

Another Baffert entry that is generating some buzz is Defunded, coming in at 10/1 odds. The Hall of Fame trainer traditionally brings his horses along slowly, and Defunded is a perfect example.

He's getting a shot because of the withdrawal of Life Is Good and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, winner of the last three Santa Anita Derbys. He didn't break his maiden until March 6 at Santa Anita and enters this race as a real Baffert wildcard.

Roman Centurian was the fourth-place finisher in the San Felipe Stakes and the runner-up to Medina Stakes in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. At 10/1, this is an entry that should be given some serious consideration as he breaks from the inside post position. He's raced against tough competition and has recorded qualifying points both times.

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