The stage is set for the 144th Kentucky Derby, the world’s most famous horse race, in which almost everyone has an opinion, including horsemen at Santa Anita, home of four of the 20 three-year-olds scheduled to run in the first jewel of the Triple Crown tomorrow at Churchill Downs. With their morning line odds, the four are: favored Justify, 3-1; Bolt d’Oro, 8-1; Instilled Regard, 50-1; and Solomini, 30-1.

A random sampling at Santa Anita revealed most showing their loyalty and objectivity, backing either Justify or Bolt d’Oro, but not exclusively, to wit:

Paul Aguirre: I love Justify.

Huey Barnes: I’m going with the horse that won the Florida Derby (Audible). He showed me something there.

Rafael Becerra: Justify. Right now, I don’t think anybody can beat him.

Vann Belvoir: I think Justify is the best horse, but for a real longshot, My Boy Jack.

David Bernstein: It’s very contentious, but I’m hoping for the Californians, Justify or Bolt, then Mendelssohn.

Dan Blacker: Justify looks pretty tough to beat.

Jeff Bonde: Bolt d’Oro, but I think Justify is the most beautiful horse I ever looked at, and for good reason. He looks like Superman just jumping out of the closet.

Simon Callaghan: Justify.

Jack Carava: Justify is the best and has been most impressive, but he is lightly raced.

Ben Cecil: Justify, but if any horse can beat him, it’s Mendelssohn.

Vladimir Cerin: I hope Bolt d’Oro wins. I want to see the little guy with $70 million win.

Phil D’Amato: Bolt d’Oro.

Caesar Dominguez: Justify looks fantastic but I’m rooting for (Mick) Ruis (Bolt d’Oro).

Peter Eurton: I’m probably rooting for Bolt.

Carla Gaines: It was love at first site when I saw Justify, and as he’s progressed, he’s looked more dynamic. A girl might say that if he were a man, I’d marry him.

Paddy Gallagher: It’s wide open.

Victor Garcia: I haven’t seen a race this good in a long time.

Mark Glatt: I think California is well-represented.

Eoin Harty: Box the trifecta, Justify, Bolt and Good Magic.

David Hofmans: Justify.

Brian Koriner: Bolt d’Oro.

Eric Kruljac: I’m rooting for Mick. Bolt will probably run his best race, because now he’s not looking to his next race. He’s very well prepped for this one.

Ian Kruljac: Justify.

Andrew Lerner: Justify.

Craig Lewis: It’s pretty competitive. Any one of a half dozen could win. It comes down to who gets the best trip, but it should be fun to watch.

Mike Machowsky: Mendelssohn.

Gary Mandella: Mendelssohn.

Alfredo Marquez: Justify and Bolt.

Ron McAnally: Justify, but I’d like to see Ruis (Bolt d’Oro) win it.

Michael McCarthy: All of Todd Pletcher’s entries, then Justify and Bolt.

Sean McCarthy: He’s lightly raced but I’ve got to go with the obvious, Justify.

Richard Migliore: Audible, Bolt d’Oro, Hofburg.

Steve Miyadi: Bolt.

Hector Palma: Bolt d’Oro. Victor (Espinoza) is a good rider in these races.

            George Papaprodromou: Justify and Bolt.

Dean Pederson: Justify.

Jorge Periban: Justify. I like that horse.

Marcelo Polanco: Mendelssohn, if he can repeat his last race, will be very tough.

Gary Sherlock: I want Bolt to win but he’s got to beat Justify. I think Bolt can get the trip at a price.

John Shirreffs: Bolt d’Oro.

Alan Sherman: Aiden O’Brien’s horse, Mendelssohn.

Gary Stute: I’m going with Bolt d’Oro.

Kathy Walsh: I’m pulling for Bolt d’Oro. I hope Victor (Espinoza) wins his fourth Derby.

            Tim Yakteen: I’ve got to go with Justify.

Howard Zucker: I’m going with the home team, Justify.

No matter the winner, one thing’s for sure: he’ll be the only horse on the planet that can win the Triple Crown this year.

The field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby, with a scheduled post time of 3:50 p.m. Pacific: Firenze Fire, Paco Lopez, 50-1; Free Drop Billy, Robby Albarado, 30-1; Promises Fulfilled, Corey Lanerie, 30-1; Audible, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Good Magic, Jose Ortiz, 12-1; Justify, Mike Smith, 3-1; Lone Sailor, James Graham, 50-1; Hofburg, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1; My Boy Jack, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1; Bolt d’Oro, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Enticed, Junior Alvarado, 30-1; Bravazo, Luis Contreras, 50-1; Mendelssohn, Ryan Moore, 5-1; Instilled Regard, Drayden Van Dyke, 50-1; Magnum Moon, Luis Saez, 6-1; Solomini, Flavien Prat, 30-1; Vino Rosso, John Velazquez, 12-1; Noble Indy, Florent Geroux, 30-1; and Combatant, Ricardo Santana Jr., 50-1.

Tomorrow, Santa Anita hosts the Biggest Derby Party West of Kentucky. Fans can watch and wager on the Run for the Roses and enjoy a full wagering card on track. Featured are a craft beer festival, the Californian vintage motorcycle show, a Chandelier Room Derby party, a Kentucky Derby hat contest, the Family Fun Zone and a restaurant dining package. For tickets, visit



            With the $2,000 supplemental nomination of nine-time winner Vale Dori, six of them coming in stakes, Sunday’s already salty Adoration Stakes added a tad more saline, as four of the seven fillies and mares entered are stakes winners.

Vale Dori, beaten a neck by champion Stellar Wind in her last two races, the Grade I Beholder Mile and the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch in her most recent start last July 30, has been firing bullets for her return and will be ridden by Mike Smith for trainer Bob Baffert.

Her main rival will be Fault, who transferred from turf to dirt in her last start, romping home first by 6 ½ lengths for Phil D’Amato in the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes March 17.

“My filly’s tactical,” the trainer said. “She can be as close as she needs to be and she’s ready to go. But it’s a tough race and we’re going to have to earn it.”

Vale Dori is not the lone speed in the Grade III Adoration, which offers $100,000 in purse money and will be decided at 1 1/16 miles. Mended, a five-year-old Broken Vow mare trained by John Martin, was second to Fault in the Santa Margarita after leading into the stretch.

She has won 13 of 28 starts, mainly at Golden Gate Fields where she rose from the $12,500 claiming ranks to put together a string of 10 straight front-running victories before missing by a head to Mopotism in the Grade II La Canada at Santa Anita on Jan. 13.

The field for the Adoration, race seven of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Dalsaros, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Mended, Ricardo Gonzalez, 7-2; Vale Dori, Mike Smith, 7-5; Shenandoah Queen, Tyler Baze, 20-1; La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Demigoddess, Tiago Pereira, 50-1; and Fault, Geovanni Franco, 6-5


FINISH LINES: Rafael Bejarano will resume riding at Santa Anita on Thursday, May 10, his agent, Tora Yamaguchi, said Friday morning. Bejarano, who turns 36 on June 23, suffered a fractured left wrist in a riding mishap last March 18. “He worked three horses today and he’s feeling good,” Yamaguchi said of the Peruvian star . . . Ten items remain available from the recent benefit for injured exercise rider Adrian Valenzuela, including a halter from 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, a saddle towel worn by Hall of Fame member Lava Man, memorabilia from two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, and more. To bid, type in Adrian Valenzuela on eBay . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover today of $219,054 . . . Ron McAnally, recovering at his Tarzana home from a broken left ankle suffered in a recent fall, is anxiously awaiting his return to Santa Anita, where he began his storied Hall of Fame career more than half a century ago. “Progress is slow,” McAnally, 85, said by phone Friday morning. “I have nine screws and a plate in my foot, but I hope to have a boot on soon which will help me walk. I miss being at the track terribly.” . . . NBCSN’s Kentucky Derby Day coverage will include a feature on survivors of the San Luis Rey Downs fire this past December. The feature will air prior to tomorrow’s Grade III Pat Day Mile, which attracted a field of 14 that includes SLR survivor Greyvitos.

(Current Through Thursday, May 3)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 44 13 8 5 30% 59% $559,350
Geovanni Franco 55 8 7 6 15% 38% $281,258
Asa Espinoza 32 8 6 2 25% 50% $204,105
Franklin Ceballos 54 8 5 1 15% 26% $204,278
Joseph Talamo 39 7 7 4 18% 46% $357,734
Drayden Van Dyke 40 7 6 7 18% 50% $341,945
Stewart Elliott 38 6 5 4 16% 39% $284,635
Tiago Pereira 37 6 2 7 16% 41% $168,085
Tyler Baze 59 5 10 7 8% 37% $310,670
Martin Pedroza 25 4 4 3 16% 44% $135,685
Mario Gutierrez 18 3 4 3 17% 56% $167,315
Kent Desormeaux 24 3 2 6 13% 46% $190,875
Kyle Frey 20 3 2 1 15% 30% $106,920
Santiago Gonzalez 13 3 1 1 23% 38% $112,150
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 28 8 5 6 29% 68% $364,810
Peter Miller 41 8 5 5 20% 44% $408,306
Doug O’Neill 27 6 5 5 22% 59% $287,570
David Jacobson 19 6 1 3 32% 53% $135,405
Steven Miyadi 20 5 5 1 25% 55% $128,210
Mike Puype 12 5 2 0 42% 58% $140,780
Vladimir Cerin 14 5 0 2 36% 50% $130,245
John Sadler 27 4 7 3 15% 52% $186,420
Richard Baltas 26 3 6 3 12% 46% $192,946
Jerry Hollendorfer 26 3 5 2 12% 38% $155,935
Bob Baffert 8 3 2 0 38% 63% $213,585
Neil Drysdale 11 3 2 0 27% 45% $94,660
Simon Callaghan 8 3 1 0 38% 50% $73,850
Genaro Vallejo 6 3 0 0 50% 50% $52,930