Santa Anita's closing weekend features standout performances from Kentucky Derby, Oaks contenders

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 12th, 2016


A few standout performances headlined the closing weekend at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita Derby (G1): Big Chief Racing et al’s EXAGGERATOR (Curlin) launched a huge move on the far turn blew past foes in early stretch, posting a 6 ¼-length romp with Kent Desormeaux. The Keith Desormeaux charge got nine panels on the sloppy surface in 1:49 3/5 to stamp himself as a huge Kentucky Derby contender.

Santa Anita Oaks (G1): Fox Hill Farms’ champion SONGBIRD (Medaglia d’Oro) went to the lead soon after the break and was never challenged yet again, easing home a 3 ¾-length heroine for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The three-year-old filly endured 1 1/16 miles on the sloppy main oval in 1:44 under the guidance of Mike Smith.

San Juan Capistrano (G2): Pablo Gomez’ QUICK CASABLANCA (Until Sundown) made a big last-to-first move and powered home a facile 2 ¾-length victor for conditioner Ron McAnally. Second in this tilt last campaign, the eight-year-old endured the 1 7/8 miles on the yielding turf in 3:19 2/5 with Tyler Baze in the silks.

Providencia S. (G3): Big Chief Racing et al’s DECKED OUT (Street Boss) was last at the head of the stretch, but put in a wicked late run to take this field down by 2 ¾-lengths with Kent Desormeaux in the silks. The Keith Desormeaux trainee went 1 1/8 miles on the good turf in 1:52 3/5.

Track Stats

From a total of 39 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 38 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 69 percent of the wins. From 33 frays contested on the dirt oval, 11 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (33 percent), while one of the six grassy runs this past week was taken in wire-to-wire fashion (17 percent).

Speed on the main oval was best on the drying-out strip Sunday when four winners led throughout. With the sloppy conditions over some of the weekend, it was difficult for us to get a true gauge on the surface as we witnessed all types coming home first on the dirt. The same could be said mostly about the turf from a smaller sample of races.

Meet Totals












209 (38%)

2nd Choices:


111 (20%)

Turf Wire:


30 (20%)

Dirt Wire:


113 (28%)





Thursday (4/7)

1ST – CIMPL MAN (More Than Ready) shrugged off a test from the favorite in midstretch and pulled away late in a fine maiden score for  trainer Gary Mandella. The four-year-old colt can surely challenge winners in his subsequent outing with even slight improvement.      

3RD – SENSITIVELY (Street Sense) caught a flier out of the gate, opened up a huge lead turning for home and never gave this field a chance in securing a superb allowance tally under Tyler Baze. The four-year-old filly will surely be stakes bound in the very near future.

6TH – STELLATA (Stormin Fever) took a short lead in the lane and made the 2-5 favorite work every step of the way in posting a fine runner-up finish for trainer Peter Eurton. The four-year-old filly will be very tough next time out with even a minor step forward.

Friday (4/8)

5TH – MAKENA (Pioneerof the Nile) made it two straight and aced this route try with a fine allowance tally over a solid field. The Scott Hansen trainee was clearly best in pulling away late and might be evolving into a stakes-caliber filly.

Saturday (4/9)

4TH – CHIEF LION (Wildcat Heir) made an early move to take command nearing the top of the lane and strode home a convincing winner under Tyler Baze. The six-year-old gelding seemed to thrive in the slop and could turn out to be a useful claim for conditioner David Jacobson.

5TH – DECKED OUT put in one of the better performances we have seen at this meeting, displaying a punishing late kick in her turf debut. The sophomore filly should stay on the lawn going forward and we think she could be any kind on the green.

8TH – MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya) ran his race once again and has never finished worse than second in seven career starts, recording a good runner-up performance behind a winner nobody was beating on this day. The three-year-old could be a big player in the Kentucky Derby next month with progression for five-time winner Bob Baffert.

Sunday (4/10)

1ST – MINING DIAMONDS (Mineshaft) took the lead soon after the break and rolled home a fine maiden winner, posting a swift final time as well. The Peter Miller pupil might have turned the corner with a pair of big runs in succession.

4TH – DREAMOLOGIST (Tapit) showed some versatility in this dirt stakes, scoring in pretty solid fashion. The four-year-old is now proven on both the turf and main oval and she’s got some options going forward.

7TH – ENOLA GRAY (Grazen) made quite an impression at first asking, rolling home an emphatic 16 ¼-length winner with Tyler Baze. The California-bred filly earned a hefty 102 BRIS Speed figure for her work and we’d imagine that she will have a stakes race in her very near future.

A Look Ahead

The action moves to Los Alamitos starting on Thursday.