April 15, 2024

Newgate takes Santa Anita Handicap; Du Jour, Ruby Nell win undercard grass stakes

Frankie Dettori lifts Newgate (left) past Subsanador in the Santa Anita H. (G1) at Santa Anita (Photo by Benoit Photo)

On a stakes-packed Sunday afternoon at Santa Anita, Newgate capped off a big day for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and legendary jockey Frankie Dettori, battling gamely to win the $400,000 Santa Anita H. (G1).

Barely more than an hour after Baffert and Dettori teamed up to win the San Felipe (G2) with Imagination, Newgate showed unwavering tenacity to secure his first Grade 1 win. Last year’s Robert B. Lewis (G3) hero entered the Santa Anita H. off runner-up finishesin the San Pasqual (G2) and an allowance optional claimer to kick off 2024, but bettors were keen to support the son of Into Mischief, sending him off as the 3.20-1 second choice behind 3.10-1 favorite and San Pasqual winner Newgrange.

“We always thought that he was going to be a better horse as he gets older and we’ve been patient, just getting races into him and today was supposed to be his coming out party kind of race,” said Baffert.

Longshots dominated the early stages of the Santa Anita H. as 22-1 shot Subsanador set fractions of :23.23, :47.09, and 1:12.15 while pressed by 10-1 Mixto. Newgrange and Reincarnate raced together in third and fourth place, followed by Newgate about 2 1/2 lengths off the tempo in fifth position. Salesman and Highland Falls trailed early.

Mixto gave away around the far turn, but Subsanador continued on and led by one length passing the eighth pole. A massive upset appeared to be in the offing until Newgate closed resolutely to snatch first prize by a head, completing 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.49.

“I was getting a little worried there; turning for home it looked like that other horse got away but (Newgate) just dug in,” said Baffert.

Subsanador pulled 2 1/2 lengths clear of Reincarnate, who edged Highland Falls by a head for third place. Mixto, Newgrange, and Salesman completed the order of finish.

Bred by Town & Country Horse Farms, Newgate is owned by the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan.

“When I was a kid here in the late ’80s, there were 60,000 people here to see Ferdinand and Alysheba and you just couldn’t move,” said Dettori. “I was in awe. I rode in the Big ‘Cap the first time last year and it was a dream.  And to win it, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It is a big feather in my cap, they don’t get bigger than the Santa Anita Big ‘Cap.

“I followed Victor (Espinoza, riding Newgrange), and I sat pretty low until the quarter pole. I took my horse to the outside, I had a bit of weight pull with some of the horses. I thought I would get to the line OK, and in fairness Subsanador gave me a good fight. The last 20 yards we got out in front, and I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that I had done it.”

Frankie Dettori’s customary flying dismount after Newgate captured the Big ‘Cap (Photo by Benoit Photo)

The Santa Anita H. wasn’t the only Grade 1 contest on the card. Half an hour earlier, the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) for older horses racing one mile on grass saw Baffert’s Du Jour secure a signature victory in his 17th start.

Runner-up by a neck in the 2023 Kilroe Mile, Du Jour bounced back from a 10th-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) to pick up his first Grade 1 win. A perfect ride from jockey Flavien Prat played a big part, as Du Jour settled toward the back of the field through splits of :22.82, :45.75, and 1:09.75 before slicing through the pack and up the rail to beat the wide-rallying favorite Easter by two lengths in 1:33.95.

Ah Jeez, First Peace, Dandy Man Shines, Goliad, Prince Abama, and Mackinnon trailed home behind Du Jour, a six-year-old gelded son of Temple City owned by Natalie J. Baffert and Debbie Lanni.

“We had a great ride. The horse showed some speed then settled down nicely down the backside,” said Prat. “You always run well fresh, and on paper it seemed like this race was going to have a good amount of pace. My job was just to make sure we were in a comfortable zone, so he was able to show his talent through the final stretch.”

The graded stakes action wrapped up with the $200,000 Buena Vista (G2) for fillies and mares racing one mile on turf. The speedy Ruby Nell started as the 4-5 favorite and didn’t disappoint under jockey Edwin Maldonado, leading by daylight through fractions of :23.55, :46.88, and 1:10.81 before holding off Mouffy to score by three-quarters of a length in 1:35.01.

Nadette, Be Your Best, Bellabel, Closing Remarks, Lucky Girl, Justique, and Lakota Spirit chased home the winner, a daughter of Bolt d’Oro trained by Richard Mandella on behalf of Spendthrift Farm.