May 19, 2022

Jockey Race Adds Intrigue to Closing Stretch at Santa Anita

by SCOTT SHAPIRO

There are just eight racing days to go at the Santa Anita Park spring meeting and while the trainer title is all but decided, the race for leading jockey is still up for grabs.

Trainer Peter Miller has been on quite a tear in 2017 and while he was “run down” late in the winter by Racing Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer, Miller appears poised to capture the spring training championship in Arcadia.

Miller holds a six-win lead on nearest competitor Richard Baltas who also has had a great meet with 23 wins from 93 starters. Phil D’Amato is the only other conditioner in shouting distance with 19 wins.

Miller has been red hot dating back to the second half of 2016 when he captured the trainer titles at both the Santa Anita fall meet and the Bing Crosby meet at Del Mar with 16 wins from 45 starts. The former groom for the late, great Charlie Whittingham carried that momentum into Santa Anita this year and would have notched both the winter and spring championships if not for an incredibly strong surge from “The Dorf” in March and early April.

Miller always has his barn ready for the Del Mar summer meeting so expect him to keep things going in a big way down south. Led by leading owner Rockingham Ranch who has become a fixture at the top of the Southern California owner standings, it would be extremely surprising if the notably hard worker was not near the top of the standings “Where The Turf Meets the Surf.”

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert does not have the quantity of runners that the top few trainers do so compiling as many victories is unreasonable to expect, but he has won with 14 of his 44 starters and compiled overall earnings of over $1.264 million dollars up to this point, which puts him just ahead of D’Amato at this time with both Baltas and Miller also over the $1-million mark.

There may be little drama in the race for leading trainer, but the same cannot be said for top jockey this spring at Santa Anita.

Flavian Prat won his first outright title this winter and appeared all set to run away with the spring one as well, but things have changed quickly.

Prat holds a three-win lead heading into the final eight days of the meeting, but will be hard pressed to make it two straight riding titles. The Frenchmen will be forced to serve seven days worth of penalties for two separate incidents over the past month making it all but impossible for him to hang on to his slim lead at the top.

Veteran Rafael Bejarano is the most likely to take advantage, as he trails Prat by just three wins. Joe Talamo, leading rider at the winter meet at Los Alamitos, has been riding as well I have seen him in years. He is also in with a significant chance-trailing Prat by just 4 and Bejarano by 1 victory.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring has been the performance of apprentice Evin Roman.

Roman struggled when he first arrived in Southern California—going 6-for-47 at the Santa Anita winter meeting—but he has really come into his own over the past few months. The native of Puerto Rico has landed mounts in many of the circuit’s top barns and has compiled 28 wins since April 14th. The future looks bright for the 19-year-old as he heads to Del Mar for the first time this July.

Racing continues this Friday in Arcadia with a ten-race card that kicks off at 1PM local time. The meet concludes with a five-day week starting on Friday June 30th and ending with a special Tuesday holiday card on July 4.

For my thoughts on every race of every card, check out my Daily Selections full-card selections & analysis with best bets, and follow me on Twitter @ScottShap34.

 


SANTA ANITA PARK AT A GLANCE
Avg. Winning Odds: 4.60 – 1
Favorite Win%: 37%, Favorite Itm%: 73%
EXOTICS
PAYOFF
Exacta 68.32
Daily Double 72.83
Trifecta 442.61
Pick 3 557.43
Superfecta 2,631.89
Pick 6 24,896.20
Pick 4 3,094.56
Pick 5 10,378.68
Pick 6 Jackpot 274,631.20
Super High Five 16,955.32
TRACK BIAS MEET(12/26 – 06/18)
Distance #
Race
%
Wire
Best
Style
Best
Posts
5.0fDirt 12 42% E Middle
5.5fDirt 79 33% E/P Middle
1 MileDirt 120 31% E Outside
1 1/16mDirt 57 25% E/P Outside
DnTf Sprint 101 30% P Outside
Turf Routes 159 18% E/P Mid/Out
TRACK BIAS WEEK(06/12 – 06/18)
Distance #
Race
%
Wire
Best
Style
Best
Posts
5.0fDirt 4 50% E Middle
5.5fDirt 4 25% E/P Ins/Mid
1 MileDirt 3 67% E Outside
1 1/16mDirt 1 0% E/P Middle
DnTf Sprint 2 0% P Middle
Turf Routes 9 44% E Middle
Who’s HOT, Who’s NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Winning
Favorites
’16-‘
17
Win%
Bonde Jeff 3 2 0 1 3.63 2 18%
Kitchingman Adam 3 2 1 0 13.00 0 15%
Becerra Rafael 5 2 0 1 29.44 0 9%
Eurton Peter 5 2 0 1 6.92 1 17%
Hess, Jr. Robert B. 6 2 0 0 24.00 1 14%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Winning
Favorites
’16-‘
17
Win%
Theriot Jamie 8 2 1 2 24.55 0 10%
COLD TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Beaten
Favorites
’16-‘
17
Win%
Cassidy James M. 10 0 0 1 25.24 0 11%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Beaten
Favorites
’16-‘
17
Win%