Santa Anita Park Weekly Report (Dec. 28-29)
Anita Recap for Saturday (12-28-19)
Fast main track and good turf course. Two front running winners on dirt (6f, 8.5f). The winning turf course running styles were a front runner at one mile, a stalker at one mile, a midpack stalker at a mile and a quarter, a midpack stalker at a mile and an eighth, and a closer at one mile.
Four stakes wins for Mike Smith (two G1’s). Riding triple for Joel Rosario (pair of G2 wins).
The Rainbow 6 pool was $329,338, and multiple winning tickets paid $226.78 each. There will be a jackpot carryover of $75,392 when live racing resumes on Sunday, Dec. 29.
Lady of Shamrock Stakes Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Brill ($9.00)
Pace was the key to victory in this race. Surface switcher Brill was able to get out there and control the tempo, and it was game over. She dictated terms under Mike Smith and was never seriously threatened. The winning margin was a shade under two lengths. Post time favorite Keeper Ofthe Stars stalked from the rail and was second best. Lucky Peridot chased and edged Sold It and Angel Alessandra for 3rd. Bodhicitta was next, followed by Mischiffie and Lakerball.
San Antonio Stakes (G2) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Gift Box ($4.40)
Another stakes race decided very early. Gift Box was favored to repeat, and he made short work of this field under Joel Rosario. He went straight to the front and widened throughout in an easy 3+ length victory. He loves a mile and a sixteenth races, and Santa Anita is his track. King Abner chased the winner throughout and was well clear of the rest in 2nd. Midcourt broke slow and rallied to finish a clear 3rd. Not a bad effort at all. Fight On was an even 4th, and was followed across the line by Gray Magician, Draft Pick, and Mugaritz.
American Oaks (G1) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Lady Prancealot ($5.20)
Great ride by Joe Bravo aboard race favorite Lady Prancealot. For a brief moment, I thought my top choice Mucho Unusual was going to win, but Lady Prancealot squeezed through a tight spot along the rail and scored by a hard fought 1/2 length. The top two were best, and both ran winning races. Pretty Point was 3rd and Giza Goddess was a wide 4th. Apache Princess, Vibrance, K P Slickem, and So Much Happy trailed.
La Brea Stakes (G1) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Hard Not To Love ($25.20)
Flavien Prat was sick and off his mounts, so Victor Espinoza took over aboard strong favorite Bellafina. The latter was aggressively handled and battled with Bob Baffert returnee Mother Mother for much of the running. The pace was taxing and somebody figured to tag the speed. Hard Not To Love broke slow, and that was probably a good thing. She rolled from the back of the pack and went last-to-first to score by 2+ lengths under Mike Smith. Bellafina was a length better than Mother Mother for runner-up honors, and the top three were well clear of the rest. First Star was 4th, followed by Bell’s the One, Del Mar May, Stirred, Motion Emotion, and Free Cover.
Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Mirth ($4.80)
I thought race favorite Mirth was going to the lead, but Mike Smith was patient in midpack. My value top choice Tiny Tina got pace help and battled with Mirth in the stretch, and forged to a short lead, but Mirth battled back along the inside and prevailed by a nose. Excellent Sunset had to wait in traffic in the stretch, and the lost momentum might have cost her a better placing. She surged late and was less than a length back in 3rd. Don’t Blame Judy went from 8th to 4th, and Curlin’s Journey, Streak of Luck, Ms Peintour, and Harmless completed the order of finish.
Malibu Stakes (G1) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Omaha Beach ($2.80)
Omaha Beach did not disappoint as the chalk. He dominated this extended sprint. Much Better was sent from the rail as expected, and Complexity chased that one. Those two were nowhere at the end. Omaha Beach stalked outside, cruised past the early leaders, and won by a very easy 2+ lengths. Roadster rallied from last to finish a clear 2nd. It was nice to see him bounce back with a solid effort. Manny Wah was 3rd and he ran well. He chased the pace and tried hard every step of the way. Complexity was a distant 4th and Much Better eased in the drive. Mike Smith surpassed Jerry Bailey and is the all-time grade one king in North America (217 victories).
Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) Recap (12-28-19) – Winner: Mo Forza ($4.40)
This graded turf route for sophomores figured to be won by an off the pace runner. Mo Forza was the versatile favorite, and he rallied from 9th to score by a length and a quarter. Originaire rallied for the place and Neptune’s Storm chased the pace and held 3rd. The latter consistently finishes in the top three. Barriston the Bold was 4th, and Kingly and Proud Pedro were next. Ocean Fury, Never Easy, Bob and Jackie, Loafers Boy, and Sash were the remaining runners.
Dec. 28 Claims: Race 3 – Rickie Nine Toe’s ($30k, Jorge Periban).
Santa Anita Recap for Sunday (12-29-19)
Fast main track and good turf course. Three front running sprint winners on dirt (6f, 6f, 6.5f) . The winning turf course running styles were a closer at 5.5 furlongs, two stalkers at one mile, a front runner at one mile, and a stalker at 5.5 furlongs (rail at 20 feet).
Four wins for Abel Cedillo. Another riding triple for Joel Rosario. Trainer Peter Miller saddled two turf winners.
The Rainbow 6 pool was $184,441, and multiple winning tickets paid $5,185.34 each. There will be a jackpot carryover of $117,616 when live racing resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 1.
Eddie Logan Stakes Recap (12-29-19) – Winner: Encoder ($19.40)
Mark this one down in the right idea, wrong outcome column. I thought Goliad would sit the dream inside trip behind the speed. Instead, he dueled with chalk Smooth Like Strait, and Encoder sat the right stalking trip under Joel Rosario. He got past the early leaders in the stretch and held off Hariboux to prevail by a 1/2 length. Liar Liar checked in 3rd and Smooth Like Strait weakened to 4th. Royal Act was an even 5th, and behind him were Kanderel, The Stiff, Goliad, and Air Force Jet.
Blue Norther Stakes Recap (12-29-19) – Winner: Laura’s Light ($7.00)
Both of these Sunday stakes routes were strangely run races. They were flying up front in the Eddie Logan, which did not have as much speed on paper as this race. I was expecting fast fractions in this affair, but that did not happen. Post time favorite Laura’s Light got out there and controlled the tempo, and she won easily. In the Eddie Logan, they went 22.80, 45.63, and 1:09.64. In this race, they carved out splits of 23.73, 47.54, and 1:11.72. Compared to the other stakes, they were crawling, and Laura’s Light made them pay. Abel Cedillo was a happy passenger in this one. She scored by 3-1/4 lengths. Croughhavouke has been very unlucky since coming to the US for Jeff Mullins. She is now 0-for-5 with three runner-up finishes in turf stakes routes in this country. She was the only one finishing in this contest. Blue Sky Baby and Parkour chased the front running winner, and they were heads apart in 3rd and 4th. Guitty broke slow again and finished 5th. Little Bird, a passively handled Lighthouse, Overjoyed (wide trip), and Madame Bourbon completed the order of finish.
Dec. 29 Claims: Race 1 Two Fifty Coup ($10k, Dan Azcarate). Race 5 – Temple Knights ($12.5k, Andrew Lerner).