TURFDOM NEWS AND NOTES for June 16, 2020

Maybe the Racing Office at Santa Anita was just playing “possum” with us. After two straight weeks of short fields, they are saving the best for last, as they have 8 stakes scheduled for the last two days of the meet this weekend, with 9 races for Friday and 10 each for Saturday and Sunday. Plus there is an excellent chance that the single ticket winner of the pick six will be still be intact and the pot will be well over $1 million for Sunday and the mandatory payout. For a 20 cent wager, it is much, much better than the lottery. Both the main track and the turf course have continued to play fair but inside speed with the turf sprints has been very good lately. Next Saturday is also Belmont stakes day at Belmont Park with the first leg of the Triple Crown and we’ll have selections

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Santa Anita News and Notes for June 9, 2020

For the most part, the main track and the turf course both played fair this past weekend. There are days when the outside lanes are a bit better than the inside on the main track, like on Sunday, but one is really splitting hairs as most often the better horses are winning on those lanes. The turf course continues to be fair more often than not regardless of the placement of the inner rails. The quality of the racing was good this past weekend but most of the fields are still on the short side. That will change when Del Mar opens up on July 10, but the last two weeks of Santa Anita figure to be on the slim side with regards to entries. Jockey Flavien Prat won 3 on Friday, 4 on Saturday, and then 2 more on Sunday to run away with the riding title. However, the

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TURFDOM NEWS AND NOTES for April 14, 2020

Santa Anita Park remained closed for the third consecutive week and there doesn’t appear much hope for them to return to racing in the near future. Officials from the track do have a meeting set up with the Los Angeles County Dept. of Health this Saturday, the 18th, to reassess the county’s position, but they do not appear to make any exceptions to the mandates set forth due to the virus. There was some talk of Santa Anita and Los Alamitos switching dates as they continue to run in the evenings, but that has been taken off the table. Los Al officials are afraid if they ran in the daytime, Orange County personnel may just cancel their evening quarter horse meet. Currently, that is the only track open in the state. The feeling from the TOC group is that if they don’t return to racing in the next couple of

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Santa Anita News and Notes for April 7

The Great Race Place continues to be closed for the second consecutive week for racing, however, training continues each day in the hope that the track will reopen sooner rather than later. In a nutshell, the L.A. County Dept. of Health has decided that thoroughbred racing at this facility is not an “essential” business to stay open in light of the current pandemic. The Stronach Group, which owns and operates the track, has done a very good job of outlining the reasons why the track should remain open for racing, but that has pretty much fallen on deaf ears so far. They continue to try and get the Department back to the negotiating table and iron out the differences, but have made little headway. The California Horse Racing Board should have been the one making the decision whether to race or not, but they pawned it off to the local

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Santa Anita News and Notes for March 31

• As I write this early on Monday morning, I would say there is about a 50/50 chance that racing at Santa Anita will start up this weekend, or maybe even Friday. The L.A. County Dept. of Health shut down racing here this past week due the Covid-19 virus and it is up to the track’s management to convince the department that the racing of horses is an “essential” business. So far, there has been no positive viruses found at the race track and that includes about 750 employees, which take care of 1700 horses that live on the back side. Aidan Butler of Santa Anita along with the TOC group head up the charge. They feel that the continuation of racing at Santa Anita does not represent a health risk to the workers that live here at Santa Anita Park. Furthermore, there are not enough farms in the area

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NEWS AND NOTES for March 24, 2020

• For the last 12 months, the “Great Race Place” has been consistently attacked by the media, the Governor, state senators, and animal activist groups, and through it all has managed to continue racing. But now there is a new invisible enemy, the Coronavirus, 10 times more deadly than the seasonal flu. And while many tracks across the country have shut down, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields continue to race. But they only do so under the strictest of regulations, and new protocols are put in place every day so they can continue to do so. If the virus breaks out on the backstretch, where as many as 1000 people live, it’s all over. There are over 1500 horses here and they need to be cared for on a daily basis and exercised accordingly. All jockeys and exercise riders have their temps taken daily and are denied entrance

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News and Notes for March 17, 2020

Wow, what a difference one week makes. As the nation tries to get their arms around the deadly Coronavirus, the country has almost come to a standstill with regards to our everyday lives. With all the major sporting events either completely shutting down or at least postponed for some time, thoroughbred racing becomes the ONLY GAME IN TOWN. They won’t allow you to go to the track, as they have cancelled all on site spectators throughout the country, but you can watch and wager from home, which most people do anyway. Some satellite shops are open, but they are limiting the count to 200/250 people, if they are open at all. Most of the tracks are running around the country without spectators, but a few are closed down completely like Turf Paradise in Phoenix. Parx racing in Pennsylvania is shut down for two weeks and then will evaluate their situation.

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NEWS AND NOTES for March 3, 2020

As much as I like Santa Anita Park, no longer can it be called the “Great Race Place” based on what they have been offering players the last few weeks. Sunday’s card was just dreadful after late scratches with one four horse field, three five horse fields, and two six horse fields out of 8 races. The large races had seven horse fields. However, the track is taking steps to correct their issues, many that have occurred through no fault of their own. The overall horse population is currently down about 15% at the track. The Stronach Group is taking two steps to help with field size. 1. With the help of the T.O.C., the track is offering a 50% bonus for horses coming in from out of state and making their first start with a first through fifth place finish. This is for overnight races and is separate from

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TURFDOM NEWS AND NOTES for February 25, 2020

• Rain has continued to stay away from Southern California even though there was a 60% chance of precipitation this past Saturday. That keeps it fast and firm at the Great Race Place and the track has now gone five consecutive weeks without any mishaps (knock on wood). The main track continues to play fair but was back on the dull side this past week with times about 3 to 4 lengths slower than normal. The turf course has now started to favor off the pace runners in route races but the sprints remain fair. The fields continue to be on the “short” side and Santa Anita will introduce a bonus program in April to try and lure horses from other circuits. Right now they lose dirt horses to Oaklawn Park where they have much larger purses, but when Churchill and Keeneland open, where they also have grass racing, even

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TURFDOM NEWS AND NOTES for February 19, 2020

Eight weeks are now in the books at this winter meet and the weather continues to be rain free, which really helps the condition of both the main track and the turf course. For the 4th consecutive week at Santa Anita Park there have been no mishaps (knock on wood)  and the PETA people are getting tired of carrying their signs with nobody reading or listening. And there is no rain in sight in all of California for the next week as well. Both the main track and the turf course continue to play fair and favorites are dominating at the meet so far, mainly because of the small fields on most days. They raced four days this past week and they really struggled to put a card together for Monday. Favorites are winning at 39% overall, 42% on the main track and 36% on the lawn. The national average

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