Santa Anita begins Monday
Santa Anita will begin its 71st season of racing on Monday. The historic track, located beneath the picturesque backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains in Arcadia, California, will offer 86 days of racing through April 23. Special first post time on opening day is noon (PST).
The meet figures to be highlighted by the $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1) on March 4, the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 8 and the $3.6 million Sunshine Millions Day on January 28.
Opening day highlights include the $250,000 Malibu S. (G1) for three-year-olds at seven furlongs and the traditional Santa Anita wall calendar, which is free with paid admission. The 54th running of the Malibu is the first leg of the prestigious Strub Series, which also includes the $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup S. (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on January 14 and the $300,000 Strub S. (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on February 4.
BUZZARDS BAY (Marco Bay), winner of this year's Santa Anita Derby (G1), is expected make his turf debut in the one-mile, $100,000 Sir Beaufort S. on opening day.
"Our goal is the ($1 million) Sunshine Millions Classic and this should set him up real good for that," trainer Ron Ellis said. "He's doing awesome."
This year's Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, GIACOMO (Holy Bull), who has been idle since a seventh-place effort in the Belmont S. (G1), is scheduled to make his four-year-old debut in the San Fernando. In addition, racing fans will have the opportunity to see probable two-year-old champion STEVIE WONDERBOY (Stephen Got Even) on the same day as well, as the chestnut is slated to make his sophomore bow in the one-mile, $150,000 San Rafael S. (G2) and thus embark on the road to the classics.
Santa Anita will present 10 stakes races worth $1.175 million during the course of the first week. The track will be dark on Tuesday and racing resumes on Wednesday.
"We are excited to be hosting what we believe is the premier race meet in the country," Santa Anita President Ron Charles said. "If Mother Nature cooperates, we're confident that we're going to have a sensational meeting."
With few exceptions, racing will be conducted five days a week, from Wednesday through Sunday. Post times will be 12:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays and 1 p.m. on weekdays.
Santa Anita will offer 10 Grade 1 stakes races worth more than $12 million, highlighted by the 69th running of the Big 'Cap for older horses at 1 1/4 miles. The race has been won in the past by such standouts as Seabiscuit, Round Table, Ack Ack, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Tiznow and last year's winner, Rock Hard Ten.
The fourth annual Sunshine Millions, matching California-breds against Florida-breds in head-to-head competition at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, is highlighted by the Classic, to be run at Santa Anita at nine furlongs. First post time on Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m.
The stakes schedule also includes the $100,000 Sham S. (G3) at a mile on February 4 and the $75,000 Santa Paula S. (G3) for three-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 1. Both of these stakes were previously ungraded.
Overall, more than 70 stakes races, 45 of them graded, will be decided at the upcoming meet.
Other important races for three-year-olds include the $200,000 Santa Catalina S. (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on March 4 and the $250,000 San Felipe S. (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on March 18.
The Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles is a leading Kentucky Derby prep race, having produced four out of the top six finishers in Louisville, including the 2005 winner, Giacomo. First post time on Santa Anita Derby Day is noon.
There will be twilight racing on the final three Fridays of the meet, April 7, 14 and 21. First post time on all three days will be 3 p.m.
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