Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby will be an opportunity for Hear the Ghost to prove that winning the San Felipe Stakes was not just a result of two other horses getting locked in a speed duel.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Hear the Ghost laid six lengths off the pace last month that was being set by Flashback and Goldencents. The gelding, ridden by Corey Nakatani, rallied down the stretch to defeat a tiring Flashback by a half-length in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe.
However, his winning the stakes did not translate into Hear the Ghost being made the morning line favorite over Flashback for Saturday. Flashback, one of three horses in the nine-horse field trained by Bob Baffert, is the 9-5 top choice with Hear the Ghost second at 5-2.
"The reaction to Flashback's San Felipe performance, coupled with the belief expressed by many people that Hear the Ghost won partly because he was able to benefit from a pace meltdown," said track handicapper Jon White, "swayed me to think there is a strong probability Flashback is going to be the favorite when they exit the starting gate for the Santa Anita Derby."
Flashback, owned by Gary and Mary West, is joined in the race by Power Broker and Super Ninety Nine from Baffert's barn. The Wests also own Power Broker.
Making the Santa Anita Derby even more interesting is the fact that Flashback has drawn the rail with Hear the Ghost right next to him in post 2.
"Once they draw there's nothing you can do so you just make the best of it. I really don't like the one hole, but we have it," Baffert noted.
Power Broker will make his first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. Baffert had Super Ninety Nine racing at Oaklawn Park where he won the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18, but pressed the pace and tired badly as the 6-5 favorite in the Rebel on March 16.
Power Broker is the 5-1 third pick and will break from post 3 with Rafael Bejarano riding. Super Ninety Nine is one of three horses listed at 6-1 in the program. The chestnut colt will be ridden by Martin Garcia from post 6.
"I've got Power Broker, he's actually training really well, who ran here during the Autumn Meet," Baffert said. "Super Ninety Nine ran really well here, went to Oaklawn and did not show up at all in the Rebel but he's been training well here."
In post position order here is the field for the 76th Santa Anita Derby: Flashback, Garrett Gomez, 9-5: Hear the Ghost, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Power Broker, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Tiz a Minister, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Goldencents, Kevin Krigger, 6-1; Super Ninety Nine, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Summer Exclusive, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Storm Fighter, Gary Stevens, 20-1 and Dirty Swagg, Tyler Baze, 50-1.
The Santa Anita Derby has an approximate post-time of 7 p.m. (ET) and will be telecast by NBC Sports Network.