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Oct 26 Santa Anita News And Notes

Week four is in the books at the Great Race Place after a three day race week that ended this past Sunday, and the racing office really struggled to put together race programs all three days. I really donít believe there is a horse shortage in Southern California right now, itís just that Del Mar opens the following Wednesday and most owners/trainers would rather race there than at Santa Anita. This has been a problem for the Arcadia track for years, even decades, and they have done little to resolve the situation. Even by incorporating the same Ship and Win program that Del Mar has had in place for years, Santa Anita just canít get the full fields that Del Mar gets year after year, and that applies to the fall season as well as the summer. Part of this goes back to the bureaucratic way that the Stronach Group conducts business vs. the ever friendly atmosphere at Del Mar, and part of it has to do with the location of the race tracks. Owners just love to win at Del Mar more than at Santa Anita, even if that doesnít make a whole lot of sense. The purses are about 10% larger at Del Mar but thatís because the handle is so much more meet after meet. Even the Nor Cal trainers ship in without hesitation to Del Mar, knowing they have little chance of winning in large fields, yet are reluctant to go to Santa Anita knowing there will be just a five horse field. Even going back to the days when Hollywood Park was open, it was the same story. The last three weeks of their spring/summer meet was pretty much a disaster at the entry box as owners/trainers would save their horses for Del Mar. Some things in life just never seem to change. With just three days of racing left at this meet the main track and the turf course continue to play fair. There are a few days when early speed dominates on the main track but that is usually because they are the best horses in any given race and are short prices. Nobody has been able to be a single ticket winner in the pick six, so the pool has climbed to $682,687 for this Fridayís program. It will be a mandatory payout this Sunday and the pool should be up around $4-5 million.

STAKES RECAP: They had but two stakes this past weekend and both had small fields, both were won by odds on favorites, and both were ridden by the meetís leading rider, Flavien Prat. Neptuneís Storm got the money on Saturday in the ungraded Lure stakes for trainer Peter Miller, but he was life and death to hang on over a 10/1 shot named Order and Law. He paid $3 to win and he won by just a half at the wire, but that margin was diminishing late. It was his 8th win in 24 starts and put his earnings just shy of $1 million. On Sunday, Eda won easily at 1 to 5 in the Anoakia stakes for two year old fillies at six furlongs on the main track. This was just a five horse field and even though she drew the rail, it was a comfortable win by two at the wire. Bob Baffert is the trainer of this $550,000 purchase at a Florida sale back in March. Lady T ran on well for second and made up a lot of ground in the lane, as she was 9 lengths back at the ľ pole. Sheís a solid stretch out candidate for trainer John Shirriffs.

On closing weekend they have two graded stakes which should provide better wagering opportunities. On Saturday they will run the Grade 3 Autumn Miss stakes for three year old fillies at a mile on the turf. This race had 21 nominations and five of them were from out of town trainers such as Graham Motion, Mark Casse, Brendan Walsh, Mike Maker, and Brad Cox. This could be a pretty strong field for just a purse of $100,000. Burgoo Alley heads up the field for the locals with Umberto Rispoli in the irons. She worked 5/8 on the training track Saturday in a brisk 59.80. On Sunday, the male counterparts take to the turf in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at 9 furlongs. Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World will head up this field and they should have a good sized field. Flashiest and Cathkin Peak are other contenders for this race. The former just ran in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby back in New York and washed out badly prior to the race. Len Powell trains. Cathkin Peak is one of those Irish imports for Phil DíAmato who has shown plenty of promise when he gets a place to run in the stretch. Jose Valdivia has the mount.

As I write this on Monday, we are just 11 days away from the Breeders Cup and just 9 days away from opening day at Del Mar. If you have never been to a Breeders Cup, itís something every race fan should attend at least once in their lifetime, but it isnít cheap by any means. General Admission is $150 for the two days and does not guarantee you a seat, standing room only. Clubhouse admission is $300 for the two days and the same rules apply. Stretch Run packages with a seat for Friday only are $675 for the two days and dining packages with a seat can go as high as $1875 per person. NBC Sports televises both days for FREE.

On a sad note, Bay Area media legend Sam Spear passed away at the age of 72 this past week. Spear was employed in the racing business for four decades in Northern California and did the first and only replay television show on thoroughbred horse racing. He hosted and produced the replay show on television from 1978 to 2017 and would often have to hustle away from GGF to his office in San Mateo while fighting the bridge traffic to have his show air on time. He was a close friend of Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and would often drive Joe to both Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields for a day at the races. He also did a weekly Sunday radio broadcast with numerous guests throughout the racing industry. He always ended each broadcast with his famous admonition, weíll see YOU at the races. With his affable personality, he quickly became a fan favorite. He will be missed.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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