Buddy Gil survived another close race and earned a trip to the Kentucky Derby.
The bay gelding defeated Bob Baffert's Indian Express by a head to win the Santa Anita Derby yesterday and earned a trip to the Kentucky Derby on May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Gary Stevens rode a record ninth Santa Anita Derby winner, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker.
Atswhatimtalknbout, whose owners include Hollywood directors Steven Spielberg, Gary Ross and Frank Marshall, finished fourth as the 3-2 wagering favorite in the field of nine.
Buddy Gil covered 11/8 miles in 1 minute 49.36 seconds. The margin of victory was the second smallest in the race's 66-year history. Four horses had won by a nose.
Baffert saddled a trio of entries in his bid to win a record fifth Santa Anita Derby; Indian Express was the longest shot of his three. Kafwain, the most accomplished horse in the field, went off at 8-5, while Domestic Dispute finished fifth.
The victory was worth $450,000 to Buddy Gil's owners -- Scott Guenther, Donnie McFadden, Charles Johnson, Roger Severson and Tom Schriber, all of whom are originally from Orange County.
* ILLINOIS DERBY: Ten Most Wanted came from behind over the final stretch to beat Fund of Funds by six lengths in the $500,000 race at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, Ill. Ten Most Wanted, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, finished the 1 1/8-mile course in 1:51.47 and paid $6.60, $4 and $3.20.
The Illinois Derby is one of a series of prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Last year's winner, War Emblem, took the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before stumbling at the gate and finishing eighth in the Belmont Stakes.
* AVENTURA STAKES: In Hillandale Beach, Fla., Dynever put away Supah Blitz to win. Making only the third start of his career, Dynever rallied into contention on the last turn and won by 31/4 lengths. But neither horse is likely to go to the Kentucky Derby.