Breeders' Cup contenders out in full force on Santa Anita's opening weekend

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

September 29th, 2015


A slew of graded races took place during the opening weekend at Santa Anita.   

Awesome Again S. (G1): Lucky Charm Stable’s SMOOTH ROLLER (Hard Spun) raced in second to the top of the lane and took over with relative ease in posting a superb 5 ¼-length romp for trainer Victor Garcia. The lightly raced four-year-old got nine furlongs on the fast main surface in 1:48 under the guidance of Tyler Baze.

Front Runner S. (G1): Reddam Racing’s NYQUIST (Uncle Mo) forced the pace to the top of the lane, took the lead in early stretch and held off a game late test to prevail for trainer Doug O’Neill. The two-year-old colt remained unbeaten getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 1/5 beneath Mario Gutierrez.

Zenyatta S. (G1): Spendthrift Farm’s BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes) cruised to the lead in early stretch and powered clear to a facile 3 ¼-length win with Gary Stevens in the silks. The Richard Mandella trainee clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 4/5 to continue her amazing run.

Chandelier S. (G1): Fox Hill Farms’ SONGBIRD (Medaglia d’Oro) sped to the front soon after the break and was never challenged in coasting to a 4 ½-length score for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The two-year-old miss traveled 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 3/5 with Mike Smith along for the ride.

Rodeo Drive S. (G1): Mrs. P K Cooper’s PHOTO CALL (Galileo) tracked pretty close early on, surged to the lead in the lane and cruised home an impressive 2 ¼-length heroine with Drayden Van Dyke in the irons. The Graham Motion trainee stopped the teletimer in 2:00 3/5 for 10 panels on firm turf.

City of Hope Mile (G2): Peter Redekop’s ALERT BAY (City Zip) moved three wide entering the stretch and closed best of all en route to a one-length score under Martin Garcia. The classy gelding sped one mile in 1:33 2/5 for conditioner Blaine Wright.

Track Stats

From a total of 20 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 25 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 40 percent of the wins. From 13 frays contested on the dirt oval, one animal won in wire-to-wire fashion (8 percent), while one of the seven grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (14 percent).

It is too early to see how the track is playing from such a small sample. We would guess being a path or two off the rail was best on dirt the past week, but need to view more races to back it up.

The lone turf wire job came on the downhill course in a sprint.

Meet Totals













5 (25%)

2ND Choices:


3 (15%)

Turf Wire:


1 (14%)

Dirt Wire:


1 (8%)


Saturday (9/26)

2ND – FOREVER DARLING (Congrats) tracked in second to late stretch and inched clear in the lane in what we thought was a very professional tally under Rafael Bejarano. The Richard Baltas-trained two-year-old filly is bred to surely get more ground and we have a hunch she could evolve into a nice one.

5TH – SWIPE (Birdstone) proved more than capable in his first two-turn test and conditioner Keith Desormeaux, who also has the Champagne-bound Exaggerator (Curlin), has a legitimate chance of taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) for a second straight year.

7TH – Beholder is pretty good.

8TH – Doug O’Neill’s LAND OVER SEA (Bellamy Road) was never getting to the winner but did finish more than nine lengths clear of her nearest foe and is surely coming into her own.

Sunday (9/27)

4TH – The Bob Baffert-trained MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya) broke slow, made a big middle move and through the lane and finished a clear second in a very smart debut performance. The juvenile colt surely won’t be a maiden for long with even slight improvement going forward.

A Look Ahead

A trio of graded races will be held at Santa Anita this weekend. Saturday features the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) and $100,000 Eddie D. S. (G3), while the Sunday topper is the $100,000 L A Woman S. (G3).