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Misremembered tops Malibu on Santa Anita opener

Misremembered, shown winning the Swaps by a 1 3/4-length margin, is among the highlights on Saturday's opening-day program at Santa Anita (Benoit Photo)

Santa Anita Park, which opened on December 25, 1934, will kick off its 75th anniversary season on Saturday with a 10-race program that features four stakes races, including the $300,000 Malibu S. (G1) for three-year-olds. Multiple Grade 2 hero MISREMEMBERED (Candy Ride [Arg]), who exits an excellent neck second in the Clark H. (G2), heads a field of 13 in the seven-furlong event on Pro-Ride.

Conditioned by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Misremembered earned his initial stakes victory in the Swaps S. (G2) at Hollywood Park in July and garnered the Indiana Derby (G2) on dirt two starts back. Last time at Churchill Downs, the chestnut ridgling overcame a wide trip from post 12 to challenge for the win in midstretch before coming up short to Blame (Pulpit). He'll cut back to less than a mile for the first time in his career and make his first attempt on Pro-Ride, but Misremembered figures to be a solid favorite with regular rider Victor Espinoza from his rail post.

Arkansas Derby (G2) scorer PAPA CLEM (Smart Strike) is set for his return to the races off an 111-day freshening. Beaten less than a half-length for runner-up honors in the Kentucky Derby (G1), the bay colt ran well in only two starts over the Pro-Ride last winter, breaking his maiden prior to a close second in the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2). The Gary Stute charge was last seen posting an unplaced finish in the grassy Del Mar Derby (G2) in early September.

"He bled a little that day," Stute said, "so we decided to give him a little time off and point for the new year. I'm anxious to get him back. My bank account needs the money."

Grade 1 winner SQUARE EDDIE (Smart Strike) will look to strike while cutting back in distance off a fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Native Diver H. (G3). A well-regarded Kentucky Derby prospect following seconds in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and San Rafael S. (G2) at Santa Anita, the Doug O'Neill pupil had to miss a large chunk of his sophomore season due to shin problems, but fitness shouldn't be an issue on Saturday with three recent starts to his credit.

The Malibu is the first leg of the Strub series for foals of 2006 that also consists of the January 16 San Fernando S. (G2) and February 6 Stub S. (G2). Other contenders include MYTHICAL POWER (Congaree), who will make his first start for Baffert since winning the Lone Star Derby (G3) by 7 1/2 lengths in May; SMART BID (Smart Strike), SUPREME SUMMIT (Cactus Ridge) M ONE RIFLE (One Man Army), the top three respective finishers in the Damascus S. on the Breeders' Cup Saturday undercard; and KINSELLA (Mr. Greeley), who exits a third in the grassy Bryan Station S. (G2) for Todd Pletcher.

The winter/spring meet, which runs through April 18, will get underway with a special early first post time of 11:30 a.m. (PST). All patrons will receive Santa Anita's traditional wall calendar, free of charge with paid admission. This year's calendar chronicles many of the unforgettable moments in the 75-year history of the Great Race Place.

In addition to the 10-race card, fans will be treated to an action packed day, as the recently retired champion mare Zenyatta will be paraded in front of the grandstand and will participate in an historic winner's circle ceremony. A dramatic winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in her final start, Zenyatta, who is currently in a head-and-head duel with super filly Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) for Horse of the Year honors, will be making her final public appearance prior to being shipped to Kentucky in January to begin her new career as a broodmare.

Owners Jerry and Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will participate in the ceremony and all fans attending on-track will receive a beautiful color poster, sponsored by HRTV, of the undefeated champion mare that will include photos of all 14 of her lifetime victories.

"Zenyatta's win here in the Classic was in the opinion of many, the most dramatic moment in the history of Santa Anita and it surely has catapulted her into the national spotlight along with Rachel Alexandra as many people's choice for Horse of the Year," Santa Anita President Ron Charles said. "We are so thankful to the Mosses for making the decision to share her with us this one final time and I think many thousands of racing fans are going to want to be a part of this as well."

In the 75-year history of Santa Anita, few horses have had more impact than John Henry, who was conditioned for most of his career by Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. In recognition of the staggering list of achievements by the great John Henry, both nationally and at Santa Anita, the remarkable gelding will be immortalized for generations to come on opening day as a life-sized bronze statue of him will be unveiled by McAnally in the Paddock Gardens area near the Kingsbury Fountain.

"Without a doubt, John Henry was one of the most popular horses to ever compete here at Santa Anita and he probably meant more to our sport and to our business than any other horse you can think of in the 1980s," said Charles of John Henry, who became the first two-time winner of the Santa Anita H. (G1), taking the prestigious event in 1981 and 1982. 

Retired in 1985 as Thoroughbred racing's all-time leading money winner with $6,591,860 in earnings, John Henry passed away at age 32 on October 8, 2007, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

In addition to the 2010 wall calendar and the color poster of Zenyatta, all fans attending opening day will receive two passes redeemable for complimentary admission any day through January 3.


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