Slow Down Andy missed his shot at Kentucky Derby glory, but the colt gets a mulligan on making history when he leads a five-horse field into the gates for Saturday’s Los Alamitos Derby.

Slow Down Andy-Los Al Derby
Slow Down Andy, seen here winning December’s Los Alamitos Futurity, tries adding the Los Alamitos Derby Saturday at Los Alamitos. That race headlines the second-to-last day of Thoroughbred summer racing at the small Southern California track. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The son of Nyquist and 8/5 morning line favorite is attempting to become the first horse in track history to win both the Los Alamitos Futurity and the Los Alamitos Derby.

One of the flagship races on the short Los Angeles County Fair meet, the 1 1/8-mile Los Alamitos Derby anchors Los Al’s nine-race card. Relegated to Listed Status from Grade 3, the Los Alamitos Derby headlines the penultimate day of racing for the two-week meet. The meet serves as a bridge between Santa Anita Park’s meet and Del Mar. That meet begins July 22.

Slow Down Andy comes into the Los Alamitos Derby off a three-month hiatus that kept him out of the Derby. Trainer Doug O’Neill had Slow Down Andy dialed into the Run for the Roses. Then, three weeks before the May 7 Derby, Slow Down Andy spiked a fever and O’Neill pulled him off the Derby trail.

Slow Down Andy the only Derby-eligible horse in the field

At that point, Slow Down Andy had 60 points. Those came courtesy of his wins in the Los Alamitos Futurity and his last outing, the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico. He won that March 27 Sunland Park Derby by a half-length over Bye Bye Bobby as the 6/5 favorite.

There was no favored status two starts earlier, when Slow Down Andy won the Los Alamitos Futurity at 5.20/1. In so doing, he upset the 1/2 favorite, Messier. That victory looked a heck of a lot better after Messier went out in his next start and destroyed the Robert B. Lewis field by 15 lengths.

The Sunland Park Derby victory gave Slow Down Andy his third win in five starts (3-1-0). He’s missed the board only once: a sixth in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February.

Baffert is well-represented here

Since returning from that spring fever on May 21, Slow Down Andy worked out seven times. Three of the seven workouts were bullets, including the last two six-furlong works at Santa Anita on June 25 and July 2.

Waiting for him are two Bob Baffert candidates who share 2/1 second-choice status. This is appropriate, considering Baffert won the Los Alamitos Derby six times since 2014. Recently back from his 90-day suspension, Baffert sends out Doppelganger and High Connection.

A $570K purchase at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Select Yearlings Showcase, Doppelganger has been a disappointment to date. The Into Mischief progeny is 1-for-6, breaking his maiden at first ask last December at Los Al. Since then, he’s hit the board only twice, including a second to Forbidden Kingdom in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in March and a last-out third by nearly six lengths to Hopper in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes.

Los Alamitos Derby has literal, figurative High Connection

The horse finishing a quarter-length in front of Doppelganger in that Affirmed was his stablemate, High Connection. The lightly raced colt, owned by Prince Sultan Bin Mishal al Saud, began his career on the right hoof in late March. He broke his maiden by 10 lengths as the 3/2 favorite.

Since then, he owns a pair of seconds coming in an allowance and in that Affirmed Stakes. High Connection hasn’t come close to his 108 Equibase Speed Figure clocked in that debut victory.

Listed Los Alamitos Derby/Los Alamitos

Morning Line (Jockey/Trainer)

  1. Win the Day, 10/1 (Diego Herrera/Doug O’Neill)
  2. Got Thunder, 8/1 (Ramon Vazquez/John Sadler)
  3. Slow Down Andy, 8/5 (Mario Gutierrez/Doug O’Neill)
  4. Doppelganger, 2/1 (Abel Cedillo/Bob Baffert)
  5. High Connection, 2/1 (Juan Hernandez/Bob Baffert)

O’Neill sends out backup for Slow Down Andy in Win the Day (10/1). The gelding is 1-for-5. After breaking his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths, he was fifth of six in the Santa Anita Derby. Last out, the son of Midshipman was fourth of eight in the Black-Type Texas Derby.

Rounding out the field is John Sadler’s Got Thunder (8/1), who finished last in that Texas Derby, albeit by only 4 1/4 lengths.