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Flashback is favorite for Santa Anita Derby

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - Flashback was made the early 9-5 favorite on Wednesday for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, although the 3-year-old colt will break from the rail, a position his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert famously dislikes.

Baffert skipped the post position draw for Saturday's race, saying he always gets jinxed when he attends.

``I really don't like the one-hole, but we have it,'' he said.

Various Baffert horses have ended up next to the inside rail in major races over the years, with mixed results.

Flashback is coming off a second-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes on March 9, when he was the even-money favorite, but got caught in a pace duel and lost by a half-length to Hear the Ghost, who drew the No. 2 post and was listed at 5-2.

``That last race toughened him up, he needed that,'' Baffert said about Flashback, who won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2 by 6 1/2 lengths.

After the San Felipe, Baffert decided to replace Julien Leparoux, who had ridden Flashback in all three of his career starts, with Garrett Gomez.

Jockey Corey Nakatani thinks Hear the Ghost deserves to be the favorite.

``He doesn't have to run his best race, but at the same time you want him to show positive signs going into not only this race, but the Kentucky Derby,'' he said.

The West's major prep race for next month's Kentucky Derby drew nine colts, with the winner earning 100 qualifying points toward landing a spot in the 20-horse field on the first Saturday in May.

Baffert will also saddle 5-1 shot Power Broker and 6-1 shot Super Ninety Nine in pursuit of his record seventh victory in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Doug O'Neill, who trained I'll Have Another to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, will saddle Goldencents. The colt won the Sham Stakes on Jan. 5 and was fourth in the San Felipe. He'll be ridden by Kevin Krigger.

Goldencents, who is part-owned by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, is coming back a month after the San Felipe. Going into that race, he had been away from the races for nine weeks.

``We will have a horse that's ready and he won't be as fresh, as rank as he was in the San Felipe,'' Krigger said.

Tiz a Minister, third in the San Felipe, has a new rider in Joe Talamo since Gomez took off to ride Flashback.

``You never know who the next superstar is going to be,'' Baffert said. ``We're always looking for a horse to step up and separate themselves.''

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens goes for his record 10th win in the race aboard 20-1 Storm Fighter. Stevens, who turned 50 last month, began a comeback in January.

The field, from the rail out, with jockeys and odds:

Flashback, 9-5, Gomez; Hear the Ghost, 5-2, Nakatani; Power Broker, 5-1, Rafael Bejarano; Tiz a Minister, 6-1, Talamo; Goldencents, 5-1, Krigger; Super Ninety Nine, 6-1, Martin Garcia; Summer Exclusive, 20-1, Edwin Maldonado; Storm Fighter, 20-1, Stevens; Dirty Swagg, 50-1, Tyler Baze.

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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

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