Santa Anita's all sources handle for its 103-day racing season, which began on Dec. 26 and concluded Tuesday, showed an $23.5 million increase over a year ago, a 2.5 percent gain. Additionally, there were 62,400 more total visits resulting in an on-track attendance increase of eight percent–the fourth consecutive year Santa Anita has posted attendance gains.
“We're encouraged by our numbers and we remain committed to working with our horsemen to do even better and to provide our customers with the kind of world class racing they expect to see here at Santa Anita,” said Joe Morris, Senior Vice President, West Coast Operations, for The Stronach Group. “We finished strongly this past few weeks because we were able to increase our field size, which makes for better opportunities for our players.
“Moving forward, we are excited to provide great entertainment, food, customer service and the kind of dynamic, world class racing that Santa Anita is known for. Field size will continue to be a top priority and we're greatly encouraged by the performances of both our main track and turf course through varied conditions.
“Our turf course, with the hillside component and our Bandera Bermuda grass, performed tremendously from December 26 through July 4 and we look forward to showcasing this one of a kind course by offering many different types of races for diverse classes of horses this fall.”
The following are highlights from the Winter/Spring meet:
Dec. 26—Opening Day
Total handle: $18.3 million
Attendance: 46,514—the largest in 22 years, dating back to 1994
Mind Your Biscuits, runner-up in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Sprint Nov. 4, takes the Grade I Malibu Stakes. Trained by Robert Falcone, Jr., he's ridden by Joel Rosario. The Grade I La Brea is taken by Jerry Hollendorfer's Constellation, with Flavien Prat up.
March 11–Santa Anita Handicap Day
Total handle: $18.3 million
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens ships in from south Florida to win the Grade I Big 'Cap with Shaman Ghost, who's ridden by Javier Castellano. Owned by Stronach Stables and bred by their Adena Springs Farm in Ontario, Canada, Shaman Ghost provides Frank Stronach with his third win in “The Granddaddy of them All.” Baffert's undefeated Mastery, with Mike Smith up,takes the Grade II San Felipe, while trainer Richard Mandella's Bal a Bali and Javier Castellano win the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf). Hollendorfer's Sircat Sally stays unbeaten in the China Doll Stakes.
April 8—Santa Anita Derby Day
Total handle: $20.8 million
Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs win their second Grade I Santa Anita Derby, as Gormley, with Victor Espinoza up, takes the West's biggest event for 3-year-olds. Mandella's Paradise Woods wins the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks and Hollendorfer's Sircat Sally wins the Grade III Providencia.
Spring portion of meet begins on April 14 and consists of 45 racing days, through July 4:
May 6—Kentucky Derby Day
Total handle: $19.2 million
Grade III Senorita Stakes taken by the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Sircat Sally, who was ridden by Stewart Elliott and remained unbeaten in six starts.
May 20—Preakness Day
Total handle: $15.8 million
Grade II Kona Gold Stakes taken by trainer Phil D'Amato's rapidly improving Ransom the Moon. Trainer Kenny Black's star California-bred What A View wins the Crystal Water Stakes.
Puerto Rican native Evin Roman, 19, became the first “bug boy” to win a Santa Anita riding title since Gordon Glisson in 1949, as he won 41 races, dead heating with French-born Flavien Plat, 24, who bagged his third Southern California riding title.
Peter Miller was dominant in the trainer's division, as sent out 36 winners, 11 more than runner-up Richard Baltas. The Spring Meet title represents Miller's eighth overall Southern California training crown.
One of Miller's primary clients, Gary Hartunian's Rockingham Ranch, easily led all owners with 16 wins, including Surrender Now's eight length romp in Saturday's Landaluce Stakes.
Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, opening day of the 2017 Autumn Meet.
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