Buddy Gil Wins Santa Anita Derby
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Buddy Gil survived another close race and earned himself a trip to the Kentucky Derby.
The bay gelding defeated Bob Baffert’s Indian Express by a head to win the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, earning the recognition that eluded him leading to the West Coast’s final prep for the May 3 race at Churchill Downs.
Gary Stevens rode a record ninth Santa Anita Derby winner, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker.
Atswhatimtalknbout, whose owners include Hollywood directors Steven Spielberg, Gary Ross and Frank Marshall, finished fourth as the 3-2 wagering favorite in the field of nine.
Buddy Gil covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.36. The margin of victory was the second smallest in the race’s 66-year history. Four other horses won by a nose.
Buddy Gil, trained by Jeff Mullins, overcame traffic to beat Atswhatimtalknbout by a nose in the San Felipe Stakes on March 16. But the horse with the tongue-twisting name received most of the hype.
Buddy Gil paid $14.60, $5.80 and $3.80 at 6-1 odds. Indian Express returned $21.60 and $7.80 at 35-1, while Kafwain paid $3.20 to show.
Baffert saddled a trio of entries in his bid to win a record fifth Santa Anita Derby. Indian Express was the longest shot of his three. Kafwain, the most accomplished horse in the field, went off at 8-5, while Domestic Dispute finished fifth.
Logician was sixth, followed by Flirt With Fortune, Iron Lad and Ocean Terrace.
Ridden by David Flores, Atswhatimtalknbout was last early, eight lengths back. Ocean Terrace, the only undefeated horse in the race, led much of the way, with Indian Express close by his side.
Stevens had Buddy Gil in fifth until they moved into contention on the outside approaching the final turn. Buddy Gil took a narrow lead at the top of the stretch. Indian Express, on the rail, fought back and the two dueled to the wire.
The victory was worth $450,000 to Buddy Gil’s owners _ Scott Guenther, Donnie McFadden, Charles Johnson, Roger Severson and Tom Schriber, all of whom are originally from Orange County.
Ministers Wild Cat was scratched before the race because of a bruised right hind foot.
Trainer Neil Drysdale said the injury developed after the colt galloped Friday morning, but he didn’t announce the scratch right away because owners Irving and Marge Cowan were traveling back to California.
The injury doesn’t appear serious, and Drysdale said Ministers Wild Cat could return soon. The colt is nominated to next Saturday’s California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.