The Santa Anita Derby provides the West Coast's last stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby and given its $1 million purse, a win or runner-up finish in the historic race virtually guarantees a berth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The Santa Anita Derby has been run every year since 1935, which was also the inaugural season of Santa Anita Park. According to the Santa Anita Web site, six winners of the Santa Anita Derby and 15 horses overall that prepped in the Santa Anita Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.

The last horse to use the Santa Anita Derby as a steppingstone to a win in the Kentucky Derby was Giacomo in 2005. Giacomo finished fourth in that year's Santa Anita Derby which kept him winless in three starts as a 3-year-old. However, the son of Holy Bull managed to put it all together when the gates opened for the Kentucky Derby. Off slow as was his custom, Giacomo came roaring home through the stretch and passed every rival to score at odds of 50-to-1, making it one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history.

For horses managing to win the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky hasn't proven too kind during the last 23 years. The last of the six horses to ever pull off the Santa Anita Derby-Kentucky Derby double was the great Sunday Silence in 1989. To put that into some sort of perspective, during the 21 years prior to Sunday Silence, three horses would win the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby—Majestic Prince (1969); Triple Crown winner Affirmed (1978); and Winning Colors (1988), who is one of only three fillies to have ever won the Kentucky Derby.

The Santa Anita Derby, contested at 1 1/8-miles, is one of just five Grade 1 races on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The others are the Wood Memorial, Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

The 2012 edition of the Santa Anita Derby is led by Creative Cause, considered by many to be the West Coast's top Kentucky Derby prospect. The son of Giant's Causeway is exiting a win in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and a strong performance in the Santa Anita Derby will make him one of the favorites in Kentucky.

Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who is loaded with prospects, plans to run three contenders in the Santa Anita Derby who have yet to be determined. Speaking of Baffert, he is also the all-time leading trainer in number of Santa Anita Derby wins with six. He is followed on the list by fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who won four Santa Anita Derbys between 1980-1988.

Gary Stevens won nine Santa Anita Derby's in his Hall of Fame career to lead all jockeys. He is followed by Bill Shoemaker with eight wins and Laffit Pincay Jr. with seven wins.

The 2012 Santa Anita Derby, along with the Wood Memorial Stakes from Aqueduct in New York, will be televised live on NBC.

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