Mike Smith appears to be in the enviable position of riding favored Justify in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, in addition to second choice Midnight Bisou in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.

But with chalk winning nationally at about 30 percent, that leaves a 70 percent chance for an upset. Either way, the cool and collected Smith, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 2003, hopes to go from one extreme to another when the gates open in the Run for Roses.

“The Derby is a tough race,” said Smith at Santa Anita last Sunday before the draw for the 144th  edition was taken on Tuesday. “Longshots do win it, so you never know what’s going to happen on that day.”

Smith speaks from first-hand experience. He piloted rank outsider Giacomo to victory at 50-1 in 2005 for his first and only Kentucky Derby triumph to date. However, there is a noteworthy counter streak currently underway, as the last six Derby betting favorites have won.

“In order to win, a lot of things have to go right, but I truly believe I’ve got a horse with that kind of talent, and we’re just praying the opportunities come our way,” Smith said, speaking of undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner Justify.

“It’s important that both horses get their trips and the chance to showcase their ability, but they’re both ready to run.

“They have to be happy, healthy and sound,” Smith said. “Given that, both my mounts are very, very special.”

Smith, who turns 53 on Aug. 10, is represented by agent Brad Pegram, also calling the shots for 23-year-old Drayden Van Dyke, rider of Instilled Regard for Jerry Hollendorfer in Saturday’s first leg of the Triple Crown. Both Van Dyke and Smith rank among the nation’s leaders in purse earnings through April 29 with $3,276,153 and $3,237,860, respectively.

Smith was forthcoming in imparting his knowledge to his young cohort, providing advice upon request.

“This is Drayden’s first Derby and he’s probably very happy and very excited,” Smith allowed. “I know I was. This is what every jockey dreams of.”

The field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby, with a scheduled post time of 3:50 p.m. Pacific Time: 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.

Santa Anita’s Paddock Room will open at 7:15 a.m. for simulcast wagering on Kentucky Oaks Day tomorrow. On Saturday, Santa Anita hosts the Biggest Derby Party West of Kentucky. Patrons can watch and wager on the Run for the Roses and enjoy a full wagering card at The Great Race Place. Featured will be a trackside 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



La La Land makes his first start as a gelding in Saturday’s $100,000 Singletary Stakes for three-year-olds at a mile on turf and Phil D’Amato expects a strong effort from the Irish-bred son of Dark Angel.

“He’s training really well,” the trainer said of the dark bay colt, who had issues in his first two United States starts, going wide down the hillside turf course on Feb. 25 and the victim of a slow start in the Pasadena Stakes on March 17, rallying to finish third twice under Joe Talamo.

“Talamo has been breezing him,” D’Amato said, “and thinks he’s ready to go.”

The field for the Singletary, race four of 11 live races with a 12 noon first post: Afleet Ascent, Stewart Elliott, 8-1; $2,000 supplemental entrée East Rand, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; More Honor, Tyler Conner, 10-1; La La Land, Joe Talamo, 2-1; Choo Choo, Geovanni Franco, 3-1;  Move Over, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Blame the Rider, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; and Restrainedvengence, Tiago Pereira, 5-1.



Trainer Simon Callaghan, who left Thursday afternoon for Kentucky where he saddles American Gal in Saturday’s Grade I Humana Distaff Stakes and Inscom in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs, will keep a close eye that day on Santa Anita where he has two fillies entered in the Grade III Senorita Stakes, West Palm Beach and Treasuring.

“They’re both training really well, and I think they’ve both got good chances,” Callaghan said. “I’m happy with both of them.”

The Senorita, race seven: West Palm Beach, Tyler Baze, 5-2; May Girl, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Exuberance, Tiago Pereira, 4-1; Treasuring, Brice Blanc, 7-2; Consolida, Julien Couton, 10-1; Pursuing the Dream, Stewart Elliott, 4-1; and Movie Moment, Geovanni Franco, 6-1.


FINISH LINES: Multiple graded stakes winner and outstanding Male Turf Horse in Santa Anita’s recent Winter Meet Media Poll Itsinthepost worked four furlongs Thursday for Jeff Mullins in 49.40 on the main track. It was one of 85 recorded workouts, 16 on the training track, including a bullet four furlong breeze by American Stakes winner What a View, a candidate for the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on May 28 for trainer Kenny Black . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot pool carryover today of $208,503 . . . With the initial two-year-old race of the meet set for tomorrow’s first heat at 4 ½ furlongs, Dan Hendricks points out that owner J. Paul Reddam has a juvenile soon to run named Bad Haircut. Without revealing the person, the trainer says it’s named for a jockey’s agent.


(Current Through Sunday, April 29)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 44 13 8 5 30% 59% $559,350
Geovanni Franco 49 8 7 6 16% 43% $274,103
Drayden Van Dyke 40 7 6 7 18% 50% $341,945
Franklin Ceballos 47 7 5 1 15% 28% $184,340
Joseph Talamo 35 6 6 4 17% 46% $335,329
Stewart Elliott 36 6 5 4 17% 42% $283,945
Asa Espinoza 26 6 5 2 23% 50% $152,870
Tyler Baze 55 5 9 5 9% 35% $294,370
Martin Pedroza 24 4 4 3 17% 46% $134,565
Tiago Pereira 32 4 1 5 13% 31% $107,925
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 39 8 5 5 21% 46% $404,481
Doug O’Neill 25 6 4 5 24% 60% $269,610
David Jacobson 18 6 1 3 33% 56% $134,985
Mike Puype 12 5 2 0 42% 58% $140,780
Vladimir Cerin 13 5 0 2 38% 54% $129,900
John Sadler 24 4 5 2 17% 46% $174,620
Steven Miyadi 18 4 5 1 22% 56% $112,865
Richard Baltas 24 3 6 3 13% 50% $188,626
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