Kaleem Shah’s Dortmund remained undefeated with a 4-1/4 length victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby Saturday, keeping him unbeaten at 6-0 heading into next month’s Kentucky Derby.
“It’s good to see this horse just really developing the way he has from his first start,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “I just love the way he ran.”
Dortmund led all the way in running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.73 under Martin Garcia and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the six-horse field. Baffert earned his record seventh victory in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby.
“When we bought him he looked like a really good horse, but he was just a big horse and sometimes they don’t turn out,” Baffert said. “He’s a big, long-legged horse. When he made the lead and when he gets by himself like that, he’ll idle on you a little bit, so he had to keep going.”
Dortmund bobbled slightly coming out of the starting gate in the No. 1 post — a spot Baffert detests — but he quickly went to the lead and kicked clear leaving the final turn.
“Even though he’s won all his races, he’s still learning,” said Garcia, who won his first Santa Anita Derby. “He can play around a bit when someone comes to him. When I ask him to go, he becom s push-button and he just takes off.”
Dortmund joins his sire Big Brown (3-0) and Barbaro (5-0) in taking an undefeated record into the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown won the Derby in 2008 and Barbaro did so in 2006.
At 17 hands, Dortmund stands taller than the average thoroughbred, which can measure anywhere from 15 to 17 hands, with a hand being equal to 4 inches.
One Lucky Dane, also trained by Baffert, returned $4.80 and $2.80, while Bolo was another 2¼ lengths back in third and paid $3 to show. Prospect Park was fourth, followed by Cross the Line and Bad Read Sanchez.
Dortmund earned 100 points for the victory, moving him into second place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that determines the 20-horse field for the May 2 race.
One Lucky Dane was running just 16 days after returning from a 4½-month layoff with a victory on March 19. He moved into 16th on the Derby leaderboard and will head to Churchill Downs, too.