Runhappy punctuates opening weekend, Belvoir Bay a turf filly to watch at Santa Anita

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

December 29th, 2015


A slew of top stakes performances highlighted the big opening weekend of the winter/spring meeting at Santa Anita.

Malibu S. (G1): James McIngvale’s RUNHAPPY (Super Saver) cemented his status as the top sprinter in training with a facile 3 ½-length romp under Gary Stevens. Unbeaten in seven starts at one turn, and 7-for-8 overall, the standout sophomore led throughout for conditioner Laura Wohlers and completed seven panels in 1:21 3/5, netting another excellent 107 BRIS Speed rating while never being seriously tested.

La Brea S. (G1): Forum Racing IV’s BIRDATTHEWIRE (Summer Bird) was last turning for home but gained momentum in early stretch and finished fastest of all, recording a half-length decision for trainer Dale Romans. The three-year-old filly finished seven panels in 1:23 1/5 with Mike Smith in the saddle.

Mathis Brothers Mile S. (G2): Sareen Family Trust’s OM (Munnings) inched to the lead nearing midstretch and stayed on late to post a 1 ¾-length victory with Gary Stevens. The talented sophomore from the barn of Dan Hendricks endured one mile on the firm turf in 1:35 2/5.

Robert J. Frankel S. (G3): Brackpool et al’s GENDER AGENDA (Holy Roman Emperor) overtook the lead in deep stretch and repulsed a serious challenge to post a neck victory with Rafael Bejarano. The four-year-old filly stepped 1 1/8 miles on the firm lawn in 1:50 1/5 for conditioner Carla Gaines.

Daytona S. (G3): Queen Bee Racing LLC’s TWOWINDYTOHAULROX (Harlan’s Holiday) put in a driving run in the lane and got up in a blanket finish of longshots for conditioner Phil d’Amato. Ridden by Tiago Pereira, the four-year-old colt got up by a neck at 21-1, with a 52-1 shot in second and a 41-1 outsider another neck back in third, and the final time for the about 6 ½ furlongs on turf was 1:14 1/5.

Track Stats

From a total of 18 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the opening week, favorites won at a 22 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 39 percent of the wins. From 12 frays contested on the dirt oval, two animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (16 percent), while one of the six grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (16 percent).

We thought any kind of run style could fare well on the main oval and off-the-pace horses certainly enjoyed plenty of success in the first two days. We will need more racing to make any judgments, but there certainly has been no speed bias to this point. Both wire jobs came on Saturday in sprints.  

Meet Totals












4 (22%)

2nd Choices:


3 (16%)

Turf Wire:


1 (16%)

Dirt Wire:


2 (16%)





Saturday (12/26)

2ND – ELKHORN CROWN (Forest Command) flashed good early foot and stayed on to be a clear second in a nice debut performance. The David Bernstein trainee will be tough right back with even slight improvement.

3RD – The Richard Baltas-trained ASIAN’S WAY (Trappe Shot) left little doubt in this first offering, putting in a big move in early stretch and driving home a convincing 5 ¾-length winner under Santiago Gonzalez. The two-year-old filly didn’t beat a great field of prospects in our view but surely looked the part from a visual standpoint.

8TH – MARKING (Bernardini) was second early and stayed there behind a superb sprinter in a fine runner-up showing for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin. The lightly raced sophomore might be set for a big 2016 with continued improvement.

Sunday (12/27)

2ND – BELVOIR BAY (Equiano) tracked in second early, took the lead in early stretch and rolled home a most impressive 7 ¼-length winner, scoring with the utmost ease for new trainer Peter Miller. The juvenile filly looks to have a very bright future on the lawn heading into next season.

4TH – HOFFENHEIM (Midnight Lute) made a nice stretch run to gain the edge inside the final furlong only to be caught in the final strides. The Bob Baffert trainee likely won’t be a maiden for long.

8TH – Making her first turf stakes appearance, GLORY (Tapit) led for a long time before just missing in a tight photo for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The three-year-old filly was facing her elders and has really elevated her game since switching to grass three starts ago. She could make a lot of noise at age 4.

A Look Ahead

A quartet of graded runs will be offered this weekend at The Great Race Place. Saturday features the $200,000 San Gabriel S. (G2), 200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) and $100,000 Midnight Lute S. (G3). Sunday offers the $200,000 Monrovia S. (G2).