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Nov 1 News and Notes Santa Anita

Five weeks are in the books at Santa Anita’s fall meet with just one to go. The main track has played fair this past week as well as the turf course which track management is using as often as possible. Field size has been very good throughout this fall meet, but is averaging almost 2 horses per race better on the lawn vs. the main track. Let’s face it, owners and trainers like racing on the turf, especially trainer Phil D’Amato. With the Breeders’ Cup races from Keeneland approaching this week, Santa Anita’s post times will be moved up all three days. First post at Santa Anita on both Friday and Saturday will be 12:30 and then with the switch back to regular time on Saturday night, post time will be 12 noon for Sunday. The Santa Anita selections along with selected Breeders’ Cup races will be emailed out the night before for both Friday and Saturday. Racing returns this Friday with a 10 race program and the Rainbow pick six pool is up to $306,022 for any single ticket winner. The pool will be paid out completely on Sunday which is closing day for the fall meet.

STAKES RECAP: There were seven stakes run over the weekend, all of them on Saturday, and we will the cover four of them including all three of the graded ones. Only six went to the post in the Grade 2 Goldikova stakes at one mile on the turf for older fillies and mares, and the winner was of no surprise as the outgoing Going Global made her swan song a successful one with an authoritative victory at odds of 3 to 10. Ridden by leading grass rider Umberto Rispoli, who won three on the day, she laid closer to the pace than normal, angled two wide on the far turn, then burst clear in the lane with that great turn of foot she has always had to win by a length and a half in 1:33.85. England’s Rose, who was coming off of a layoff, rallied for second and was four in front of third. The winner won for the 9th time in 13 starts since coming to the U.S. while earning $1,128,500 for her connections. She is scheduled to be sold at the Fasig Tipton auction ring on Nov. 6th in Kentucky. Winning trainer Phil D’Amato called her the greatest filly he has ever trained, as Phil won three stakes on the day plus one in Kentucky for good measure.  The other Grade 2 on the program was the Twilight Derby for three year olds at 9 furlongs on the grass and D’Amato didn’t win this one. War at Sea was the 2/1 favorite just 4 minutes to post, but then was a vet scratch, and the favorite became the Midwest invader Speaking Scout at 2/1. Eight ended up going in the gate and the logical speed was Go Joe Won, who set ridiculously slow fractions of 25.07 and 49.89 for the half. As game as he is on the front end, it was unlikely the closers would have much say in the outcome with those very slow splits. But that wasn’t the case as Cabo Spirit, off at 5/2, found a seam in the stretch and roared home to win by a half over the favorite Speaking Scout. The winner was ridden by turf ace Joe Bravo for trainer George Papaprodromou. Speaking Scout also closed from off the pace and ran well to be second. The winner will probably go in the Hollywood Derby next down at the Del Mar fall meet.

The last graded stakes on Saturday was the final race of the program, where 12 went to the post for the Grade 3 Autumn Miss stakes at a mile on the turf for sophomore fillies.  Cairo Memories, a multiple graded stakes winner in the early part of 2022 was made the heavy favorite, but she was basically a non factor in this race as the stretch runners had the final say. The fast improving Rhea Moon got the money under Juan Hernandez with a perfectly timed ride from far back in the field at 6/1. She got up at the wire to win by just over a length over another late runner, the Euro invader Nadette, who was making her 1st start in this country. Nadette was dead last throughout and had an explosive late kick under Rispoli and is on our Horses to Watch list. Longshot Kitty Kitana ran third. The winner was trained by none other than Phil D’Amato, who absolutely owns the turf courses here in Southern California. He is what Chad Brown is to the New Yorkers. D’Amato also saddled the third place finisher and figures to run the winner next in the American Oaks on opening day of Santa Anita’s winter meet. The non graded Lure stakes was run in the Saturday opener and though there were only six horses, this was a quality field.

The winner went wire to wire with an excellent ride from Juan Hernandez, who coaxed him along in this mile turf race with fractions of 47.40 for the first half and then ran 46.38 for the all important second half. Air Force Red went off as the second choice in the wagering and paid $6.40 to win while two lengths clear at the wire. Prince Abama, a Turfdom Best Bet on the day, ran a good second and ran his race but for the second consecutive time, he lost due to the race shape. D’Amato’s Gregorian Chant went off as the wagering choice and ran third. The winning trainer was Len Powell and the winner has now won four times in 8 trips to the post.

Kent Desormeaux has been cleared by the California Horse Racing Board to return to race riding after going through rehab due to substance abuse issues. Desormeaux, who is a Hall of Famer and has won 6116 races in this country, has not ridden since January. However, as of this writing, he has not been cleared by 1st Racing to ride at any of their tracks including Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. Desormeaux does figure to be given the OK to return to riding at Del Mar when they open their doors for their four week fall meet on Nov. 11. Where many of the great jockeys in the past that have had substance abuse issues, i.e. Patrick Valenzuela, Chris Antley, and Garrett Gomez, all have been related to drugs, whereas Kent’s big issues have been related to alcohol, which have led to domestic abuse and racist comments.  Kent may have a hard time securing any quality mounts, as there are plenty of talented riders in the jocks room these days, and even Johnny V. may be returning to Southern California at Baffert’s request for the fall Del Mar meet. Kent is no longer a young man at 52 years of age and has never been one to try all that hard once he sees he can’t win a race.

No matter how good a race card any track puts up this week, all eyes will be on Keeneland Friday and Saturday, where the world’s best meet in the Breeders’ Cup.  This World Series of thoroughbred horse racing started in 1984 at Hollywood Park, the track known for the “Lakes and Flowers.”  Unlike baseball’s World Series, where the teams are US-based, the BC truly represents the world.  Horses from all over the world participate, and this year 26 different countries will be able to wager into the BC Global Pool.  Keeneland will offer 10 races on Friday beginning at 11:55 a.m. EST, with the first five being their under card, and beginning in race six, five consecutive juvenile races which end  with the Juvenile Turf at 5:40 pm EST. Three of the five Cup races on Friday will be on the Turf and they will offer an ALL TURF PICK THREE for a $3 wager. Saturday will be a very long day with 12 races beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST, that’s 7:30 PST, and will conclude with race 12 at 5:40 pm EST with Classic. There will be one additional race on their under card that will go off at 6:20 PM. The weather forecast is as of Monday calling for clear skies with temps in the low 70’s. The wagering menu is so huge it would take a full page just to mention them all, but the Breeders’ Cup has always had a wide variety of ways to win or lose your dinero. The 50 cent wager has become the most popular and all trifectas, pick 3’s, pick 4’s, pick 5’s, super high 5’s and the ALL TURF PICK FOUR  will all be of this denomination. $1.00 will be the minimum for Win, Place, Show, Daily Double, Exacta, and the Pick Six, while the 10 cent Superfecta will also be in place. In addition to the Santa Anita races, we will have three Breeders’ Cup selections for Friday and five selections for Saturday.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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