Two spots in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby will be on the line when eight horses square off in the 2024 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Historically one of the most important prep races for the Derby, the Santa Anita Derby will award qualifying points to the top five finishers on a 100-50-25-15-10 basis. That will guarantee the top two finishers a berth in the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May. On Saturday, the Bob Baffert-trained Imagination is the 8-5 favorite in the 2024 Santa Anita Derby odds. However, Imagination is ineligible to earn any Derby qualification points because of Baffert's suspension at Churchill Downs. Sunland Park winner Stronghold, who sits in 22nd on the Derby points leaderboard with 25, is the 5-2 second choice in the 2024 Santa Anita Derby field. 

Post time for the Kentucky Derby prep race is set for 7:45 p.m. ET. With several lightly raced 3-year-olds set to enter the starting gate on Saturday, you'll want to see what Santa Anita-based racing reporter and analyst Michelle Yu has to say before making any 2024 Santa Anita Derby picks.

Few people in racing are as well-connected as Yu. An on-air host and reporter who has provided racing analysis for TVG, HRTV and the Breeders' Cup, Yu has spent a lifetime in racing. Prior to her television career, she worked for trainers Steve Asmussen and Ron Moquett. She also is married to Santa Anita-based trainer Ryan Hanson.

Yu also has astute handicapping chops. In a wide-open Kentucky Derby in 2021, she gave out Medina Spirit, who crossed the finish line first, as the winner at 12-1. In Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager two years ago, she suggested a play on All Other 3-Year-Olds, which cashed at a whopping 18-1 when Rich Strike won the Derby.

Last year she crushed the Saudi Cup, riding 15-1 winner Panthalassa, nailed Derma Sotogake to win the UAE Derby and hit the exacta in the Santa Anita Derby. She hit the exacta in the Preakness Stakes and Hollywood Gold Cup and had both the winner and exacta in the Summertime Oaks and the Prince of Wales's Stakes. She also smashed the Haskell Stakes for a $663 score, hitting 12-1 winner Geaux Rocket Ride as well as the exacta. And in January, she correctly called National Treasure to win the Pegasus World Cup.

Now, Yu has handicapped the 2024 Santa Anita Derby lineup, made her picks and constructed her best bets. You can head to SportsLine now to see them.

Top 2024 Santa Anita Derby predictions

One surprise: Yu's top pick is not Imagination, even though he is the 8-5 favorite. A $1.05 million son of Into Mischief, Imagination has never finished outside of the top two in five career starts. In his last start, he outgamed stablemate Wine Me Up to win the San Felipe Stakes by a head.

But Imagination has yet to have a breakthrough performance; his biggest margin of victory is 1¾ lengths. "I don't like that he always seems to keep things tight at the wire," Yu told SportsLine. Yu prefers another horse over Imagination. You can see all of Yu's 2024 Santa Anita Derby bets here.

How to make 2024 Santa Anita Derby picks

Moreover, Yu's top pick is a "consistent performer." She's also high on a longshot who is a "speedy sort." She is including these horses in her 2024 Santa Anita Derby bets, and so should you. She's sharing which horses to back at SportsLine.

So who wins the 2024 Santa Anita Derby, and how has Yu constructed her wagers? Visit SportsLine to see Yu's picks for the Santa Anita Derby, all from the Santa Anita-based racing insider who nailed last year's exacta, and find out. 

2024 Santa Anita Derby odds, contenders

Prg #HorseOddsProjection
1Curlin's Kaos20-1SEE PICKS
2Tapalo5-1SEE PICKS
3Stronghold5-2SEE PICKS
4Imagination8-5SEE PICKS
5Wynstock8-1SEE PICKS
6Tessuto10-1SEE PICKS
8E J Won the Cup15-1SEE PICKS