Santa Anita Derby Best Bets: Forbidden Kingdom Tough to Catch

The top three-year-olds on the West Coast will clash in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on Saturday, April 9!  The race covers nine furlongs on the Santa Anita dirt, and 100-40-20-10 Road to the Kentucky Derby points are awarded to the first four horses across the wire. This means the top two horses are virtually guaranteed Derby berths, and even the third- and fourth-place runners may turn up at Churchill Downs.

The race is traditionally one of the most live Kentucky Derby preps on the calendar. Ten horses have won both the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby, including Triple Crown winners Affirmed (1978) and Justify (2018). In addition to Justify, two other horses in the last decade have won both races: California Chrome (2014) and I’ll Have Another (2012).

This year, the Santa Anita Derby features a showdown between leading California three-year-olds Forbidden Kingdom and Messier. Will one of them win, or will someone else steal the spotlight?  Keep reading to find out!

Where to Bet the Santa Anita Derby

Your first step toward a profitable Santa Anita Derby day is to choose the right place to bet the race online. There are many options, and choosing one can feel difficult. Fortunately, our betting experts can give you all the information you need and help you choose the best online sportsbook for your betting style!

All of the sportsbooks we recommend have great user interfaces, trusted deposit and cash-out features, and real Vegas odds. Different sportsbooks offer different incentives such as deposit and sign-up bonuses, horse racing rebates, and referral bonuses. Some can pay better than others depending on your preferred stakes and wagers. To maximize your profit, take the time to read our reviews and pick the perfect sportsbook!

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Santa Anita Derby Horses and Odds

This is the official field for the 2022 Santa Anita Derby, including draw numbers, trainers, jockeys, and morning lines:

  1. Happy Jack (Doug O’Neill/Abel Cedillo) – 20/1
  2. Armagnac (Tim Yakteen/Drayden Van Dyke) – 20/1
  3. Forbidden Kingdom (Richard Mandella/Juan Hernandez) – 6/5
  4. Messier (Tim Yakteen/John Velazquez) – 1/1
  5. Win the Day (Doug O’Neill/Umberto Rispoli) – 20/1
  6. Taiba (Tim Yakteen/Mike Smith) – 4/1

Keep in mind that the morning line is the track’s best estimate for what the odds will look like on race day. You are not guaranteed these odds by betting the race at the track, and they will fluctuate until the moment the horses break from the gate.

Forbidden Kingdomto Win the Santa Anita Derby
star iconstar iconstar iconstar iconstar icon
+120
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Your best bet is to play the Santa Anita Derby from a trusted online sportsbook! Online sportsbooks offer fixed-odds wagering. This means that, when you see odds on a horse that are better than their actual chance to win, you can lock in an overlay the moment you place your bet. Then, you can watch the race confident that you have the best odds on your horse.

BovadaBetOnlineBetUS
Messier+100+100+100
Forbidden Kingdom+120+120+120
Taiba+400+400+400
Armagnac+2000+2000+2000
Happy Jack+2000+2000+2000
Win the Day+2000+2000+2000

Free Santa Anita Derby Picks

With your online betting account set up, it is time to handicap the race and place your bets!  These are the horses to watch in the 2022 Santa Anita Derby:

Santa Anita Derby Favorites

Three horses will take most of the wagering interest in the Santa Anita Derby: Forbidden Kingdom, Messier, and Taiba.  Forbidden Kingdom and Messier will probably vie for favoritism, whereas last-out maiden winner Taiba should end up the third choice in the wagering.

Forbidden Kingdom is in the driver’s seat. He has sharp early speed, and he proved last out when he won the San Felipe so impressively that he can carry that speed two turns. Though Armagnac appears to be a rabbit for Messier in this race, Forbidden Kingdom has already proven that he is faster than Armagnac early, giving him a good chance to dictate terms and wire this race.

Forbidden Kingdomto Win the Santa Anita Derby
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+120
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Messier has talent, and most recently won by 15 lengths in the Robert B. Lewis (G3), but has not raced in two months and will now be at a tactical disadvantage against better horses than ever. More interesting among the other “logical” horses is Taiba. He broke his maiden on debut in a sprint last out, but he should be fast enough to be closest to Forbidden Kingdom early and his pedigree has upside for the stretch out to two turns.

Longer Shots in the Santa Anita Derby

Three other horses fill out the field: Armagnac, Happy Jack, and Win the Day.  All three have a lot to prove, and the prices will reflect that. Armagnac does his best when he can get the lead though he showed in the San Felipe that he is not fast enough to effectively keep tabs on Forbidden Kingdom.

Happy Jack broke his maiden in a sprint at Santa Anita, proving he can handle the footing. But, two disappointing efforts in the Lewis and the San Felipe have shown that he is not quite good enough to take it to the top West Coast horses yet, particularly not at two turns. And, even with the blinkers going back on, he does not have the kind of speed that would make him interesting.

Win the Day is the most appealing of the longer shots, at least for exotics. He has yet to face winners, but it is a strong positive that he stepped up to break his maiden last out in his first start on the main track. He is a late-running type who is likely hoping that Taiba can take the race to Forbidden Kingdom early. But, Win the Day is also unexposed on dirt, with more upside than anyone to take a step forward and find the exotics.

Santa Anita Derby Free Picks

These are your best bets for Saturday’s 2022 Santa Anita Derby:

  • $20 to win – #3 Forbidden Kingdom
  • $1 exacta – #3 Forbidden Kingdom over #6 Taiba
  • $0.50 trifecta – #3 Forbidden Kingdom over #6 Taiba over #4 Messier and #5 Win the Day
Forbidden Kingdomto Win the Santa Anita Derby
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+120
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Tonya Holms

Tonya has been working in the horse racing industry for nearly two decades, moving up from groom to horse owner, to marketing and media. She learned the tricks of handicapping while working in horse racing broadcasting both in the United States and Canada. In her spare time, she loves to read and take care of the farm animals: sheep, goats, ducks, and chickens.