There was plenty excitement in the air on Monday, opening day at Santa Anita Park. The stands were full, the clubhouse was packed, and kids everywhere were carrying around large stuffed horses. Though the adverts said ‘mini’ thoroughbred, these were definitely not minis, but they sure made the kids happy.
The opener, an optional claiming for fillies, started off with a bang and a long wait. Cioppino Pasadino and Fallout came to the wire together, and the margin was so close it took minutes for the stewards to determine who came out ahead. Cioppino Pasadino took the win, with Fallout taking the place. Rally Back’s jockey, Chantal Sutherland got the show even after losing her right rein. Good riding by Chantal.
In the 2nd, Classic Ruler, with Agapito Delgadillo aboard, got ahead of He’s All That and Santiago Gonzalez in the stretch and held clear to win. Classic Ruler was claimed in this race by trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer so perhaps we’ll so more improvement from this good looking two-year-old.
The highly anticipated 3rd race of the day was to show off the ability of some of Bob Baffert’s two-year-olds. The race included Bronze Age, Dabster and First Degree Burn, all of whom have been training over Santa Anita’s track in the mornings. First Degree Burn left the gate as the 2 to 1 favorite but had nothing in the tank for the stretch run and fell back to finish 9th. Bronze Age also weakened in the stretch and finished just ahead of First Degree Burn. Dabster was the one to watch at 4 to 1 odd, as he got in front of Doug O’Neill’s gray, So Conflated, and took the win by a head. Dabster and jockey, Rafael Bejarano however had drifted out late and the stewards disqualified his win, placing him fourth, making So Conflated and Mario Gutierrez the winner. Both seem to have promising careers ahead of them.
Two long shots took the win and place in the 4th, with Professor Berns at 15 to 1, and Brice Blanc edging out Temple Keys and Santiago Gonzalez, who went off at 16 to 1, to cause a $236.90 exacta.
Another anticipated race for two-year-olds, the 5th saw Bob Baffert’s Beautiful Princess as the heavy favorite leaving the gate, but she got off to a slow start and had nothing left in the stretch. This left the stretch run open, and Ruby Trust, with Stewart Elliott aboard, took advantage and won clear.
The San Simeon Stakes (Grade 3 – race 6 on the card) on the hillside turf course saw the triumphant return of Bettys Bambino, who had been on a long layoff, not having raced since February of 2015. The Peter Eurton trained six-year-old, ridden by Joel Rosario, rallied in the stretch and raced clear of rival, Stormy Liberal and Norberto Arroyo Jr.
The 7th, the La Brea Stakes (Grade 1), for three-year-old fillies, was gamely won by Constellation and Flavien Prat over second favorite , Finley’sluckycharm and jockey, Brian Hernandez Jr. Constellation took the win at odds of 12 to 1, paying $27.00. Constellation, a three-year-old filly out of for Royalty, by champion sire, Bellamy Road, is aptly name due to the spattering of small white spots on her chestnut coat.
The Grade 1 Malibu Stakes brought together some of the most promising three-year-old colts but Mind Your Biscuits proved best of the bunch as he gained the advantage in the stretch and held it over Sharp Azteca. Mind Your Biscuits gave Joel Rosario his second stakes win of the day. Favorite, Ten Blessings finished a respectable third.
The last race of the day, the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile, was won by clear favorite, Conquest Enforcer and Flavien Prat, giving Prat his second stakes win.
Opening day attendance was 46,514, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the meet!