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News And Notes Santa Anita Week 7

•    The temps have cooled off and it feels more like Southern California winter weather with highs in the low sixties instead of the low eighties. There is rain in the forecast this week but it should all be gone by Thursday when racing resumes with a five day week due to President’s Day on Monday, the 19th. The main track was favoring speed to a large degree when the temps got warm but it is now back to a fair race track. The turf continues to play fair and speed has been holding on very well coming down the hill in those unique sprint races. Sunday was a very “chalky” day with only one winner on the card over $10 and that was in the finale with the winner paying $11.20. Six winners on the card paid $4.60 or less and the pick six paid $1027. The only c/o into Thursday is the single ticket jackpot at $70,000 plus.

•    They ran 3 stakes on Saturday and one on Sunday this past weekend with mostly good prices, except for Unique Bella, the quick filly for Jerry Hollendorfer, who won off by nine at 1/10 in the Grade 2 Santa Maria stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. There was zero speed in the race so she took the race over early with fractions of 23.54 and 46.80, and the race was over going into the far turn. She’ll go next in the Santa Margarita, which is the signature race of the meet for older fillies/mares on March 17, and I doubt that race will be any tougher. If all goes well from there, she’ll travel to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom on April 13. Both those races are Grade 1’s. The Eclipse award winning sprinter is now 3/3 around two turns. Also on Saturday, the “Dorf” got a stakes double when Kanthaka found a pace duel to his liking and came from well back to nab the Grade 2 San Vicente at 7 furlongs on the main track for sophomores. Heavily favored Ax Man, who drew the rail, got in a hot speed duel with a Minnesota invader, Mr. Jagermeister, and they zipped through the half mile in 22 flat and 44.25, setting it up for any late runner. Prat had Kanthaka sitting perfectly at the 3/8th pole, and she went by the leaders at the top of the lane and won off by 3 at $24.20. The water gets deeper now though as he will have to go two turns, probably in the San Felipe, where he will have to contend with the likes of Bolt D’Oro on Big Cap Day, March 10th. Then in the Grade 3 Thunder Road, Flavian Prat proved once again why he is the best turf rider on the circuit, when he gunned Om ($11.40) right to the lead with a fast opening quarter in 22.58, opened up 7 lengths on the back side, then still had something left when the stretch runners came to him at the 1/8th pole. Om prevailed by a half over Bowies Hero and it was just another head back to our Best Bet Next Shares, who was flying late at 6/1, but had too much work to do. Prat had stolen the race and Om, who hadn’t won in over two years, went over a $1 million in earnings. He’ll go next in the Kilroe Mile, also on Big Cap Day, along with the second and third place finishers. Then on Sunday, trainer Peter Miller capped off a triple on the day, when War Heroine got the money coming down the hill in the Sweet Life stakes in a full field of 12 runners. “Heroine”, a Turfdom Best Bet at $11.20, was actually the speed in the race, but got a rare wise ride by Tyler Baze, as she sat 2nd early, took the lead on the dirt crossover, then had enough grit to hold off the late runners winning by a half at the wire. The winner was one of many Miller horses who got caught up in the San Luis Rey fire, had to be relocated to Del Mar, and had her training interrupted in the process.

•    Solid stakes action is lined up this week with the 3 day Holiday racing as older fillies/mares tackle the Grade 2 Buena Vista at a mile on the turf Saturday. Madame Stripes and Insta Erma head the field along with Juno, Madam Dancealot, Sassy Little Lila, and Sweet Charity amongst others. Then on Sunday, Skye Diamonds, the $40,000 claim for Bill Spawr, returns to action in the Grade 2 Las Flores at six furlongs for older fillies/mares on the main track. She will have to be at her best to beat John Sadler’s crack sprinter Selcourt, who is also running in the Las Flores. Also on Sunday will be the Baffle stakes, a six and a half furlong sprint down the hill for three year olds, and a full field is expected. Then on Monday, there will be two Cal bred stakes left over from Cal Cup Day two weeks ago. The Cal Cup Derby for 3 year olds and the Cal Cup Oaks for soph fillies. The former will be on the main track at a mile and a sixteenth while the latter will be a mile on the grass. Full fields are expected for both races. Excellent racing on tap this week at the Great Race Place.

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