Santa Anita handle, attendance up slightly
On the wings of a sensational two-day Breeders' Cup World Championships, Santa Anita's 24-day Autumn Meet ended on an upbeat note Sunday as overall handle on Santa Anita races was up 2 percent compared to last year and on-track attendance (excluding November 2-3) was up 1 percent.
"The 2012 Breeders' Cup was a tremendous success every way you looked at it," Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge said. "We had great racing, great weather and we exposed thousands of new people to Santa Anita and to the beauty and excitement of horse racing. Most importantly, we had two days of injury-free competition, which is always our top priority."
Wise Dan, who thrust himself firmly into the picture for 2012 Horse of the Year honors by winning the Breeders' Cup Mile on Saturday in course record time, was named Horse of the Meet in Santa Anita's second annual Autumn Meet media poll.
Joe Talamo, who captured his first Santa Anita riding title with 37 victories to outdistance runner-up Rafael Bejarano (21 wins), was named the meet's outstanding jockey. The 22-year-old Louisiana native dethroned perennial Southern California kingpin Bejarano and departed Joel Rosario, who had won championships at every meet on the circuit (not including Fairplex Park) since Hollywood Park's fall meet in 2007, when Garrett Gomez took the crown.
Bob Baffert led from flag fall to finish to win his record 10th Santa Anita crown. The 59-year-old Hall of Fame trainer won with 19 of 70 starters to top runner-up John Sadler (12 wins). Baffert also captured Santa Anita's winter/spring crown in 2011-12 and had a string of seven straight titles from 1996-97 through 2002-03.
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