Dec 17, 2004
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
On the day after Christmas Santa Anita will open its doors and
celebrate its 70th anniversary. On Christmas Day, 1934, a dream came true
for Dr. Charles H. Strub with the official opening of Santa Anita Park. Its
70th year will run from December 26th through Monday, April 18th. The meeting
will run 85 days and will be highlighted by the $1-million Santa Anita
Handicap on March 5, the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th and the $3.6 Sunshine
Millions Day on January 29th.
As always Santa Anita will attract the top quality horses and the fans
will not have to wait long. The opening day feature will be the 58th running
of the $250,000 Malibu Stakes for three year olds. The Grade I Malibu is the
first leg of the Strub Series. This race will see ROCK HARD TEN return and
this will be the first time that he will run for trainer Richard Mandella. There are
many other quality runners expected and should get the meeting off on the
right foot. There is a special post time on opening day at (PST).
There will be racing Wednesday through Sunday throughout the meet
except for Monday, Dec. 27., Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and April 18. First post time on
weekends and holidays will be and on weekdays, except on
Friday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, when it will be All times are Pacific.
There will also be special post on other days. Post time will be
on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6, and on Sunshine Millions
Day, Jan. 29, Strub Stakes Day, Feb. 5, Presidents’ Day, Feb. 21, Santa Anita
Handicap Day, March 5, and Santa Anita Derby Day, April 9. There will be
twilight racing on the final two Fridays of the meet, April 8 and April 15, with
post time set for
Sunshine Millions will be run for the third time. This series pits
California breds against Florida breds in head to head competition run at both
Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. This series is once again highlighted by the
$1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, to be run this year at Gulfstream Park.
NBC will cover the Sunshine Millions from (PST).
The Santa Anita Handicap and the Santa Anita Derby will have an
impact on the year end awards. The Santa Anita Handicap was won last year
by SOUTHERN IMAGE, who if he didn’t get hurt would have been a contender
for Horse of the Year.
The Santa Anita Derby on the other hand is a major prep for those
three year olds on the Triple Crown Trail. Over the last eight years horses
exiting the Santa Anita Derby have either won or finished in the money in
Triple Crown races in six of those years.
The most recent meeting at Santa Anita, the Oak Tree meeting the
leading jockey was Corey Nakatani, who scored at 23.9%. He held on by two
wins over Victor Espinoza and Tyler Baze, who tied for second with 19 wins.
Those riders will take a bulk of the money at the windows. Some jockeys that
can offer value are David Cohen, who had 9 wins at the Oak Tree meeting
and Casey Fusilier, who had five wins from 38 mounts. Fusilier has been
riding for trainer Bob Baffert and can have a big meeting with a few breaks, follow.
The Oak Tree meeting’s leading trainer was Mike Mitchell with 13
wins, a winning percentage of 43.3%. His in the money percentage was an
astounding 70%. Doug O’Neill, Robert Frankel and Jeff Mullins all had good
meetings but some trainers to watch are Adam Kitchingman who scored with
3 out of five starters and Neil Drysdale who had four wins from 17 starters
with a 58.8% in the money percentage. His barn is doing well now and he
just may have the best two year old, soon to be three year old in
FUSAICHI SAMURAI. He debuted on December 11th and has the racing
world buzzing. Out of Kentucky Derby winner FUSAICHI PEGASUS he
has the pedigree to get it done.
Good Luck at the upcoming meeting and don’t forget we will have
selections for Santa Anita starting opening day on our selection line
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