Santa Anita News and Notes Jan 21
• Week four at Santa Anita Park had a great day of racing on Saturday for Cal Cup Day, but unfortunately three horses died this past week to take some of the luster off the proceedings. Two were pulled up on the turf course on Friday and Saturday and had to be euthanized due to injuries, while the other was somewhat of a fluke with a head on collision during training, much like what was experienced at Del Mar this past summer. That brings the total to five for the meet but none have been on the main track during racing, where Santa Anita took such a hit last winter. The main track is as safe as any in the country but injuries are going to happen. It’s the nature of the game and it always has been. It’s just sensationalized so much more today with social media and the animal activist groups. So far, it’s been very quiet from the Governor’s office and from the state senators with regards to the euthanizations. The four main tracks in the state have paid for a lobbyist group to remind all the key politicians about the good of the sport and all the jobs created by thoroughbred racing, not to mention all of the tax revenues that go into the state coffers. That may or may not be good enough. It seems to appease the Governor, at least for now, while the state senators are tied up in Washington with some type of impeachment trial. And so, the beat goes on. The main track played fair for the most part this past week but on both Friday and Saturday, the outside lanes were much better than the inside part of the track. The turf course has been fair and those sprints that were dominated by closers, (13 in a row) have started to average out with two winners going wire to wire over the weekend. With Holiday racing on Monday, the track will go back to 3 days this week, Friday through Sunday. No one has hit the single ticket jackpot of the pick six, so the carryover climbs to $600,551 for Friday’s racing.
• They had five stakes on Saturday for Cal Cup Day and they offered some good field size along with some good handicapping puzzles. The Classic went to Wound Tight, who was bet down from a 5/1 M/L to 3/1 at post time. He was a Turfdom Best Bet on the day and wired the field quite easily with an $8.00 mutuel. He went to the lead as expected and stole the race with a slow 25.23 second quarter under a good ride by Abel Cedillo. He beat the favorite by three and a half at the wire. In the Cal Cup Sprint, Fashionably Fast made it five in a row with a very game effort, dueling on the lead throughout with quick fractions of 21.74 and 44.72, putting away Baja Sur, then fighting off Lieutenant Dan in the drive to win by neck in 1:09.60. He paid $6.20 to win as Baja Sur went off as the favorite and Heck Yeah was a late scratch. They will try and stretch the winner out to a mile in a Cal bred stakes called the Tiznow on March 1. Lieutenant Dan ran well in defeat and probably needed the race, as he hadn’t been postward since August. In the other Cal Cup sprint, the fillies and mares were on the turf and Stealthediamonds wired the field at 3/1 and was also a Turfdom top choice. Just Grazed Me went off as the heavy 1 to 2 favorite, but couldn’t catch the speedy “diamonds” who zipped the five and a half in a quick 1:01.61 for trainer Mike Puype, who claimed the filly for $80,000 with this race in mind. They are now totally “out” on the horse. Apache Princess ran well to get third. The winner was the second on the day for Agapito Delgadillo, 53 years young. The Cal Cup Derby winner was pretty hard to find, as Fast Enough was just that and paid $11.60 and hadn’t raced since May, when he won a maiden sprint at four and a half furlongs. It was a pretty good training job by Rafael Becerra to have the son of Eddington ready off just works alone to go a mile and a sixteenth. Other races as tune-ups just didn’t fill, so he went in off the layoff and won in a hard fought battle over a 30/1 outsider from Northern California. The Cal Cup Oaks was a bit more formful, as Warren’s Showtime got the money as a 4/1 overlay with an impressive turn of foot in the lane to win by three and a half. She was ridden by Jorge Velez, the impressive bug boy, who has learned to wait and be patient with turf horses, something most bug boys just won’t do. This was her third stakes win and at 4/1 she represented some real “value” in the race as she was 3/1 on the morning line. On Sunday trainer Brian Koriner won three on the day including the feature with a $28.40 upset in the Astra stakes, a Grade 3 for older fillies and mares at a mile and a half on the turf. Ms Peintour, who looked like she would be part of the pace picture at this marathon distance, was kept off the pace by Brice Blanc, rallied late and won by two over the favorite, Tiny Tina. She doesn’t have the kind of turn of foot you like to see on the grass, as she is more of a “plodder”, but that works out well at this distance. On Monday they ran the Grade 3 Megahertz stakes at a mile on the turf for older fillies and mares. In a very game effort, Carressa got the money with her first try on the turf course and returned a very nice $10.20 as a Turfdom Best Bet. She laid 4th down the back side, assumed control of the race at the top of the lane, and held off two very strong stretch runners to get the money. She may be a star in the making for John Shirreffs who has an extremely strong barn heading into 2020. She won her last dirt start by 8 lengths and now has proven she can handle the turf as a graded stakes winner.
• Recent winners from our Horses to Watch list include Into Chocolate $10.40, Venetian Harbor $4.00, Hard Not to Love $25.40, She’s So Special $5.00, Win Often $4.60, and Carressa $10.20. We also had two good seconds, both at 13/1, King Abner and Originaire. We suggest you playing horses off this list with their next two starts after making the list.
By Rod Young (Turfdom)