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Rock Your World finds dirt to his liking at Santa Anita

by The Associated Press | April 4, 2021 at 2:41 a.m.

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Rock Your World won the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday over 4-5 favorite Medina Spirit, preventing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert from earning his 10th win in the West Coast's prep for the Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Rock Your World ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.17 and paid $12.40, $4.60 and $3.40 at 5-1 odds. It was the 3-year-old colt's dirt debut; he won his first two starts on turf for trainer John Sadler.

"There's a lot of different ways to hunt, and I chose to lay in the weeds," Sadler said. "We started this horse off on turf. It's a nice way to kind of develop a horse a little bit. Everybody's got a different plan. This is my plan this year and it worked, so I look smart for about an hour. See me tomorrow."

Medina Spirit returned $2.80 and $2.20. Dream Shake was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $2.80 to show.

Baffert's other entry, Defunded, finished fourth. Sadler's other entry, Back Ring Luck, was eighth in the nine-horse field.

Baffert had been planning to run Life Is Good, who was the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby but has been sidelined by injury.

Rock Your World earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby and moved into sixth on the leaderboard. The top 20 earn spots in the May 1 race.

"If you want to go to the Derby you've got to get the points, so this is the time to take a shot in your own backyard," Sadler said. "You know if you ran 1-2, you'd have enough points to get in."

Rock Your World ran on the lead most of the way in front of limited fans, who created the kind of noise that had been missing at Santa Anita for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Medina Spirit moved into second approaching the final turn, but couldn't threaten the leader in the stretch.

BLUE GRASS

Essential Quality now 5-0

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Unbeaten Essential Quality continued his mastery of Keeneland and established himself as a Kentucky Derby favorite, outdueling Highly Motivated in the stretch to win the $800,000 Blue Grass by a neck Saturday at Keeneland.

The gray 3-year-old colt arrived with 40 Derby points -- including a victory at the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Feb. 27 -- at the historic track where he won graded stakes last fall, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Starting from the No. 4 post as the Grade II feature's 1-2 favorite, Essential Quality stalked Highly Motivated on the outside ahead of the nine-horse field and ran side by side through the stretch before inching past just ahead of the wire to earn 100 points toward the 147th Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

"He was going to get a good test today," trainer Brad Cox said after his colt improved to 5-0 lifetime and 2-0 this year. "I was proud of what he was able to overcome."

Ridden by Luis Saez, Essential Quality covered 1 1/8 mile in 1:48.50 and paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10.

Highly Motivated paid $3.40 and $2.80 for second and earned 40 points, while Rombauer paid $5.40 and got 20 points.

WOOD MEMORIAL

Long shot wins by head

OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Bourbonic, a 72-1 long shot, stormed from the rear entering the stretch to edge Dynamic One by a head to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and earn 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby.

The colt trained by Todd Pletcher entered the nine-horse Grade II field as the most experienced, with five starts, but was making his stakes debut. Bourbonic started from the No. 3 post and trailed the field entering the final turn before charging forward at the top of the stretch on the outside and past multiple horses before catching Dynamic One and nipping him at the wire.

The son of Bernardini-Dancing Fleet by Afleet Alex earned his third career victory in the past four starts and the biggest of his career, making a possible big step toward the 147th Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, Bourbonic covered 1 1/8 mile in 1:54.49 and paid $146.50, $40.40 and $11.40.

Dynamic One returned $15.40 and $9.20 and earned 40 Derby points. Crowded Trade paid $3.80 for show and got 20 points, and Weyburn earned 10 points for fourth.

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