The Thoroughbred Corp.'s homebred Point Given tracked pacesetter Crafty C.T. through the early going, went by the leader approaching the second turn, and pulled clear in the stretch to an impressive 5 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). On a track listed as muddy, Point Given completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.77 under jockey Gary Stevens.
"He jumped out of the gate very well," Stevens said. "From the half-mile pole on he was just dragging me."
The win marks the eighth time Stevens has won the race, tying him with Bill Shoemaker for most Santa Anita Derby wins by a jockey.
"Bob (Baffert, Point Given's trainer) said he was wondering what I was going to do from the half-mile pole home, when I was in front so easy, and believe it or not, at the three-eights pole, it did come into my mind, that I was about to tie (Bill) Shoemaker (for most Santa Anita Derby wins). That's pretty select company and quite an honor."
Eddie Delahoussaye said he thought his horse, Crafty C.T., didn't handle the wet track very well but was pleased with his colt's performance.
"He ran his heart out," Delahoussaye said. "The only thing I didn't like about my horse was that he didn't handle the track as well as I would have liked. I'm not saying we would have beaten the winner, but he would have turned in a much better performance if he'd been grabbing right. ... When I saw Point Given laying up there in second, I knew they were changing strategy today. So when we were going into the first turn, I thought I'd try to tighten it up on them, but Gary saw what I was doing and he eased back and went around. So that's another thing about Point Given, he's versatile. I'm not surprised because I rode against him in a maiden race at Del Mar, and he showed speed that day. It's just another one of his weapons."
The win was the second in two starts as a 3-year-old for Point Given, who currently stands as the 5-2 favorite in Pool Three of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Point Given (Thunder Gulch -- Turko's Turn, by Turkoman) has won five of eight career starts, while finishing second in each of his three losses, including a nose defeat in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He earned $450,000 for the win, increasing his career earnings to $1,218,500.
"We know he can handle the mud," Baffert said. "He answered that question."
Crafty C.T. finished second, three lengths ahead of I Love Silver. Palmeiro, Cherokee Kim, and Scorpion completed the order of finish. Startac and Early Flyer were scratched.
The 7-10 favorite, Point Given returned $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10. Crafty C.T. paid $2.80 and $2.40. I Love Silver was worth $2.40 to show. The $1 exacta paid $3.30. (Chart, Equibase