Twilight Derby (Santa Anita) Predictions, Odds & Picks

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Field Pass (7/2)

Post Position and Odds – Twilight Derby

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
F Prat T Pletcher
M Smith J Shirreffs
T Pereira C Lewis
V Espinoza J E Kruljac
E Maldonado P Capestro
U Rispoli M McCarthy
7 SCARTO 12/1
J Hernandez M Puype
A Cedillo J Mullins
D Van Dyke M Maker

Best Bets for the Twilight Derby

Here are my plays ($42 in total)

$2 Trifecta part wheel – Field Pass over Farmington Road over ALL = $14

$2 Trifecta part wheel – Field Pass over ALL over Farmington Road = $14

$1 Trifecta part wheel – Farmington Road over Field Pass over ALL = $7

$1 Trifecta part wheel – Farmington Road over ALL over Field Pass = $7

Top Pick:

Field Pass 7/2

After a second trip to Kentucky, Smooth Like Strait returns to his home base of Southern California and looks to be the top choice in a deep edition of Sunday’s Grade 2 Twilight Derby at 9 furlongs over Santa Anita’s turf course.

An impressive winner of two turf stakes this year, including the Grade 2 La Jolla two starts back, the son of Midnight Lute will look to return to his winning ways in the $200,000 test after fading to fourth as the favorite in the American Turf (G2) last time at Churchill Downs.

Chief among his rivals will be Field Pass, who finished one spot in front of the favorite last time. Invading from Kentucky, the Mike Maker charge has already accounted for a total of four stakes wins this year, including two of the graded variety.

Another who should entertain plenty of wagering support in the wide-open affair is Express Train. The son of Union Rags has flashed talent on dirt for trainer John Shirreffs and will be trying turf for the first time on Sunday. This will be only his third start this year, as he looks to be a wildcard among the field of nine set for the Twilight Derby.

How to Watch the Twilight Derby Stakes

Twilight Derby Race Information
What Twilight Derby (G2)
Where Santa Anita
When Sunday, October 17 — 1 PM EST
How to Watch TVG
Purse $200,000

Race Analysis

Smooth Like Strait

One of the top young turf horses in Southern California, he has won four times on turf, three of them coming in stakes races. Even in his four defeats on the grass he never failed to show his early speed and have a chance when the field hit the stretch. Unfortunately for him, there is another good speed in here, which should prevent an easy lead. He certainly could win this, but with the pace pressure and the 9-furlong distance, he looks like a favorite which I will try to beat.

Field Pass

Also, a very consistent stakes performer, top trainer Mike Maker sends this son of Lemon Drop Kid west in search of his biggest win yet. Proven at the distance, and versatile enough to lay off the pace if it is fast, this looks like a good spot for the likely second choice. He’s lost two in a row, but both efforts are solid enough to believe he can bounce right back to his winning ways if he works out the right trip. With the speed in front, look for him to sit mid-pack early and get the first jump. It’s a wide-open race, but I like him as my lukewarm top choice.

Express Train

Purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, this John Shirreffs broke his maiden last year by 14 ¼ lengths. From there he was immediately tested in grade 1 company, finishing fourth in the American Pharoah. After a lengthy layoff, he has returned with two solid efforts, with a win and a second against allowance company. He should move forward in his third start of the year, and he may well be the most talented horse in the race. The question is whether he will take to the grass or not. I think he could, but I am not sure it will be worth his odds to find out. Regardless, he is dangerous.

Margot’s Boy

Another with plenty of speed, he stalked Dominant Soul last time in the Del Mar Derby and looked like he might get the win, before being nipped late. It was a strong performance for the California-bred who has had plenty of them on the grass. Like the favorite, though, he does his best running on the front end, and with the pacesetter from his last race also in here, it looks like he will have a tough time getting any breathers early, which will likely make his task very tough going 9 furlongs.

Farmington Road

Todd Pletcher sends this son of Quality Road cross country for his fifth stakes try. He is 0-for-4 to date, but all the previous attempts came at the dirt and against top company. It looks like he took to turf fine when he won an allowance event last time at Colonial Downs. The victory does not jump off the paper, but note he was last early in a race with a little early pace and was still able to get the job done. This race should set up better for the late runner, and it should just come down to whether he is good enough.

K P All Systems Go

The experienced son of More Than Ready did not find much success in three consecutive stakes races at Del Mar, but before that, he turned in a series of strong efforts over the Santa Anita turf course. Back to Santa Anita on Sunday, and with solid pace to set the table for his late kick, he looks like a very interesting longshot for trainer Jeff Mullins.


A minor stakes winner sprinting on the dirt in Florida, this one came to life in his last two starts on the turf at Del Mar. Those two wins were not in stakes races, but they were impressive enough to believe that another similar performance puts him in with a chance in here. It looks like the son of Paynter has found a home on the grass. If he can run as well at Santa Anita as he did at Del Mar, he will be dangerous.

Kiss Today Goodbye

An improving son of Cairo Prince, he finished a very competitive third behind major players in the 3-year-old division, Thousand Words and Honor A.P., two starts back in the Shared Belief Stakes. That came on dirt. He returned to turf after that and had a pretty good late run, although only taking home fifth-place money. This is likely a tougher spot, but his last two do give hope that he can hit the board with attractive odds.

Dominant Soul

The speedy son of Dominus ran a career-best last time when he set all the pace in the Del Mar Derby (G2), before yielding late while finishing a solid third. The race before that he went wire to wire in finally breaking his maiden. Those two efforts put him in with a shot on Sunday, but with other quality speed in here, I will look elsewhere.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]