Santa Anita Now Offering Unique Race Conditions In An Effort To Stimulate Entries

by | 12.01.2017 | 6:55pm
Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Park has announced that it will be offering a couple of new and innovative race conditions in an effort to stimulate entries and boost pari-mutuel handle, effective opening day of its Winter/Spring Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 26.

With full fields for gamblers and more opportunities for horsemen of paramount concern, Santa Anita has instituted the following changes:

–Restricted Maiden Special Weight Races for two and three-year-olds. These races will be available to homebreds and horses that have been sold at public auction for $100,000 or less. (Purses on all maiden special weight races, restricted or otherwise, will be the same).

–Restricted claiming races of $20,000 or less, for 3-year-olds and up will be offered to trainers who have 20 stalls or less.

“The goal with both of these race conditions is to try and open up our game to those owners and horsemen who are breeding, claiming and buying at auction, but often face limited opportunities to protect their investments while running in competitive spots,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Racing, Rick Hammerle. “We think these changes are going to be met enthusiastically by our fans and horsemen.”

Entries for opening day at Santa Anita will be taken Dec. 21. For additional information, please visit or call (626) 574-RACE.

  • Doctor Ichabod

    I like the way they’re thinking ….👌

  • Shasta Sam

    They’ve got to do something. At least this is a step in the right direction.

    • ben

      That,s for sure.

  • Eric

    I don’t know. The restricted Md Sp Wt sounds like it would essentially replace the high priced Maiden claimers (if it doesn’t replace the Md 62,500 and up classes, then it will simply dilute horses that would otherwise be entered in the high priced maiden claimers) . I guess if the horsemen can run for a little more money in the restricted Md Sp Wt, then they will be all for it, but I don’t know if this solves anything.

    The restricted low level claimers will merely divide the pool of available horses in those classes in half, and I don’t know if it will help field sizes. What it might do is make it quite difficult for the big barns to get their cheapest horses raced, so the big trainers will be trying to unload those horses onto the smaller barns… which maybe will provide a little more of the balance that some people think So Cal racing needs.

    I am all for trying out new ideas, but these don’t strike me as anything that will stimulate entries and handle.

    • Concerned Observer

      If you are all for trying new ideas….stop pissing on them. The SA guys are smart enough to consider your concerns before trying the innovations.

      • Eric

        Little harsh, no? This forum is for offering commentary and discussion. I tried to point out both positives and negatives. We will see in time how it works out.

  • Brent T

    Being a horse owner I love it. Tracks need to do something to help the smaller barns, without them racing can’t continue.

    • Concerned Observer

      If the tracks would actually assess their entries, they would generally find that without the little trainers and 3 or less owners, they would be out of business. As for the cheaper horses, Keeneland’s catering to the high end buyers, ignores the 1691 yearlings (41% of the 2017 Sept yearlings ) that sold for less than $50,000. If there were no place to race these horses, the Kentucky breeding industry would quickly collapse.

      We should all salute SA for making an effort to try something new. We have plenty of evidence that doing the “same old same old” has not worked.

      • Gls

        I agree with the thinking out side the box. But there is a place to race cheaper horses, it called Maiden Claiming. I don’t want to look at a pedigree and see the horse is a allowance winner, but only because it was born on a Wednesday, sold for less then $20,000, its trainer had less then 5 horses and red hair!

        • riatea

          Not a big deal, you just have to do a bit more research knowing that in 2017 some Santa Anita Md Sp Wt’s are restricted. Same as having to know when tracks ran on synthetic surfaces for example. Homework.

          • Kerry Fitzpatrick

            Will DRF use the restricted mark in their PPs?

          • frank graziano

            Not at Churchill !!

        • Meg Hiers

          Do you not already look at a sales page/pedigree report and see it won an allowance race at, say Suffolk, or some other cheaper track, and automatically downgrade the accomplishment?

          • Gls

            Yes, but I don’t expect to do that with SA.

        • Dadnatron

          Would you rather have 10 races with 10 horses each or 6 races, 3 of which are turf and filled only because of MTO entries?

          • Gls

            Don’t get me wrong I’m all for more imagination in the CB, but remember they have to be betable races.

  • Neigh Sayer

    I like the forward thinking and attempt to make something happen and it’s a start but there will be a few problems and complaints that may have to be addressed. MSW races for 100k selling price and homebreds is a good thought, but anyone with a homebred by Tapit or another high priced stallion that’s where he’s going which then doesn’t really create the situation they want. And if a trainer has 21 stalls, you can expect a complaint from him when his neighbor with 20 stalls is entering races he cannot.

    • Dadnatron

      While I understand and agree to a point, I think this goes a long way to at least minimizing the high priced purchase runs. These High Prices are one reason that causes trainers to limit their entries. No one wants to spend $500K on a ‘loser’, and this puts pressure on the trainer to fulfill the horses ‘potential based upon purchase price and pedigree’. Everyone purchasing a colt in the > $500K range is thinking 2 things, Derby trophy and stallion prospect. Those horses are micromanaged by the ‘top trainers’ in order to maximize those 2 things. A barn full of ‘stallion prospects’ will likely have the smallest ‘Starts:Stall’ ratio.

      This doesn’t prevent Fipke from running a slew of Tapits in these races… but it does prevent a lot of others who simply purchase their Tapits from doing so.

  • Tinky

    Been doing similar things in the U.K. for decades, and I suggested similar to NYRA over 20 years ago

  • McGov

    Stronach strikes again. You’d better stop promoting thinkin outside the box ideas mister S or else we might evolve or somethin. Lord knows the template is etched in volcanic concrete and takes a diamond tipped bit to crack the foundation of ritualistic routine in racing.

  • Cynthia

    Gimmicks won’t work. Until you figure a way to curb th $130 a day training charges owners are going to shy away. Workmans Comp and feed costs have put California racing in a fix. Short fields will continue

  • In order for racing to survive at a high plane, it must operate on the basis of Capitalism not Socialism. This plan smacks of Socialism. Surely there must be better ways to offer better opportunities to all levels of participants. Horseplayers like full fields, but they also demand quality and honesty. While the quality if there, the honesty has been lacking. Address this elephant in the room and you will see business pick up.

    • Concerned Observer

      A field of 12 proven $15,000 claimers (all meeting a specific condition) is a better betting opportunity for the players, than a super high quality field of 5 in a graded stake with a prohibitive favorite. That is why purses for a very high percentage of graded stakes races have to be subsidized by the lowly claiming races.That is another invisible elephant.

      Check the numbers….quality racing often does not attract the betting dollars.

    • Allan

      Oh please. Races restricted to state bred and female horses and 3 year olds is also socialism.

      Let’s just run races free or conditions for all in all races.

      True unfettered capitalism.


      • Meg Hiers

        I agree, everyone celebrates Capitalism, but pure, unfettered capitalism cannot be sustained in any field because it leads to boom-bust cycles and social unrest. I am not enamored with socialism, but pure capitalism is just as ugly.

      • Leslie Navarro

        Yes like in the 80’s. Once you broke your maiden, you had to run in open claiming. There were no nw2 claiming. You had to run open and if the horse could not make it adios to Turf Paradise. And the fields were all 12 horse fields.

    • “A high plane”? When since the 1800’s has racing had a high plane? I think bettors would appreciate large fields of similar class horses each with different trainer, rather small fields where one trainer has 3 horses in the race.

    • Also, if the lower level of runners were to disappear there’d be no racing, and a lot of empty stalls. Racing doesn’t want to accept that it’s funded by bettors. The arrogance and closed mindedness of the members of the racing industry is killing racing. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Jeff Spicolli

    I like it….
    ” S**t or get off the pot”

    • Olebobbowers

      No Jeff, you don’t get it…pot becomes legal in Cali Jan.1st, so no need to get off it…jus sayin dude. Oh crap, I hope the price of sammies doesn’t go up.

    • Shasta Sam

      Hey Jeff. Say hi to Mr. Hand.

  • Peter Scarnati

    This is the exact wrong thing to do.
    Inventing new conditions for races will only lead to a thinning of entries in other races, especially at this juncture in history at Santa Anita, where they can’t fill 32 races a week with a reported 3,000 stalls filled with horses in the Southern California area. Sure, on the surface, the idea sounds great, but in reality, it only will do way more harm than good over the long run.
    In my opinion, the liberalization of conditions over the past couple of decades throughout the industry has been a major reason why filling races has become so much more difficult as horsemen merely sit back and wait for that “perfect” spot.
    It is pure logic to do the exact opposite.
    If you have a declining horse population, why on earth would you begin writing all sorts of new races (i.e., “conditioned” claiming races, cheap races on the turf, more and more sprints on the turf, optional claimers, etc., etc…)? Sure, the horsemen are thrilled that they can find the “exact perfect” spot (they think) to run in, and appeasing the horsemen is likely the reason this has occurred. Little does anyone seem to acknowledge that by writing these additional races, many, many other races consistently fail to fill.
    If you have fewer and fewer horses to create betable racing cards from, it makes no sense to widen the choices of races in which horses can be entered. It is very likely the exact opposite of the desired outcome (cards with larger fields over the course of the meet) will be the result of this highly questionable policy. If anything, fewer race conditions should be offered, if the goal is to have larger fields. It really is no more complicated than that.
    I believe the ever-increasing array of conditions now being written has been a major reason why field size has continued to shrink over the past couple of decades throughout the industry.
    But yet, no one ever talks about it.

    • Ky T

      Your thinking maybe flawed the guy sitting back and waiting for perfect spot is probably someone with a large stable, not a guy with fewer than 20 horses. Large stables hurt field sizes more than anyother factor.

    • Tinky

      Apparently you don’t understand that diminishing field size at major racetracks is not simply about smaller horse populations. The concentration of far too many horses into individual stables is an even bigger contributing factor.

    • Geri10718

      Hell no. We don’t wait for the perfect race. Some times a month goes by and we can’t get any damn race.

      • Dadnatron

        I agree, we went 6 weeks training out of Belmont looking for a race, last summer. I know my horse runs best along the fringes (Turf Sprint) but we went from a 9 horse field at Saratoga and were not able to find a race for the next 6 weeks. At ANY track in the NE. We entered every race available and none filled. I really didn’t understand, because of the horses against which we ran in Saratoga, only ONE ran during that time, ALL were being trained out of the NE (most at Fairhill and Belmont) and yet, we couldn’t fill a race???

        When I looked at the trainers of those horses… they were all in big training stables, except one. The one which ran… and he ran in a 7f dirt race. My trainer is pretty big, but we are in agreement, We run when the horse is ready. I’d rather run in a race 3wks out from his last, than breeze him and keep waiting. We won back to back at Belmont running 2wks apart, with a 3rd race 3wks later.

        A $3-4K bill during a month of waiting is difficult for smaller owners to stomach. It certainly is tough for me to think about.

        • Decimus_D

          That’s pretty nuts. It seems to me like every track in the NE runs a couple turf sprints a card. Were you looking for a specific condition?

          • Dadnatron

            Fair enough, it was a MSW we were needing. But we entered 6 races at Belmont, Delaware, Monmouth, and even… as desperate as we were for a race, Parx (we weren’t disappointed when it didn’t go). But even though we absolutely knew there were at least 8 other horses in the NE in the same position, we couldn’t get them to enter. My trainer said he was working on the trainers, but no go. The horses existed… they were in the right area… were all in the same boat as far as ‘next race status’ however, they weren’t entering. When we ran 6wks later, not one of the Saratoga horses were in the race. Where they went and where these ‘new’ horses were… I have no idea. We did find it a bit easier to find allowance races afterwards, but waiting 6 weeks in August/Sept makes no sense.

    • McGov

      Trying something different isn’t a bad idea. What is being done today, is not working….so it is good to keep trying different things until you find what works.
      Maybe this doesn’t work. Maybe you’re right and it dilutes the options and further spreads out horse entries.
      But maybe not…..maybe these new races are filled at a higher rate which would be worth the risk of finding out….no?
      I’m not sure what type of system is available at SA but it would make sense for those writing races to have a database of every horse and it’s conditions and past performances so that you could generate reports of who is needing what and when etc.
      Certainly I agree that big barns contribute to the problem the most. You might cater alllll day stables to the horse population and not see desired result because of conflicts within big barns etc. Not much can be done about that problem though except writing more of same races that interest big barns and letting others jump on as they can…..which is kinda what is being done right now I think.
      This idea is a slight turn towards the smaller guys. Could work when considered with majority of races for big guys and now more race sharing with small guys.

      • Peter Scarnati

        Sure these “new” races may well fill or even over-fill. But those entries will be at the direct expense of other currently written races which will now see fewer entries, resulting in smaller fields and/or races which will no longer fill, over the long run.
        How can it be any other way? Horses entering these new races are already existing in the population. They are not “new” horses stabled on the grounds or off-site.
        If the desire is to make larger subsets from a larger, static set, it seems foolhardy to try to accomplish this by making MORE subsets. Indeed, fewer conditions (subsets) is the ONLY way to accomplish such a goal. It’s pure logic and math.

        • McGov

          Well I guess we can see the results of this shortly and this will tell us more of the story of what the problems are…..or at least, what the problems are not.

  • Those that feel the changes would result in negative issues should think just a moment. The racing industry is not about innovation. So something has caused this attempt at change. I would guess the racing secretary is aware of issues being mentioned by smaller trainers. How many want to be racing against Bob Baffert maidens? Why should trainers start their 2-year-olds in claiming races their first time out?

    • eddie

      Why not tell the Racing Secretary who you want to run against!!!!

  • Bryan Langlois

    Interesting idea and concept. The numbers over the meet will tell the success or not. Too early to really judge this one way or the other.

  • HeyBulldog

    I would very much like to see a Stalls to Starts stat. Our barn of 14 horses ran ever single horse in the barn at Del Mar TWICE. I would like to see stats from the “big” trainers. What is this claimer going to do for small barns — get their horses claimed so they have fewer stalls filled so the stable management has cause to take even more stalls away from the little guys. Oh, and my $2200 sale horse beat a $475K sale horse in a MSW. So is a race for “bought for under $100K” really needed? How about a race restricted entirely to “AOC non winners of 1 race” without the “or”s in there? You get a horse that has won once against multiple winners because they have started in claimers. Races like that would be more helpful.

    • Dadnatron

      I think that would be a very telling stat which I would be VERY interested in obtaining when I choose a trainer. And… it would put more obvious pressure on trainers to get there horses on the track. However… it would run directly AGAINST their most important stat… Win%, which is the reason they run so irregularly.

  • talkingman17

    Allowance Maiden for horses that have sold for $500,000 or over….there you go, you have another….

  • greg

    Look at the conditions of the races at GP today (claiming crown) and use some of those conditions so lower priced horses can run and NOT get claimed, purses don’t need to be as high as the CC, just ideas

    • Eric

      I think there is something to that. If a horse is good enough to win his way out of his allowance conditions, the horse currently either has to be a stakes horse or a claimer. Obviously some of these horses just aren’t good enough for stake races, and there are plenty of owners out there who maybe have bred and raised their horses that just don’t want to lose the horse, even if the price is fair. I am not sure what the solution is but (just for thought and discussion) SA could write an open Allowance with a purse of something like 18,000 – 25,000 and see if it draws a competitive field.

      • greg

        Exactly, because if they don’t there are many tracks that write those races. Take a look at the Condition book for Gulfstream, if you have a 3yr old (or 4) that has won for a tag of $12,500-$16k, they write a condition that allows that horse to run in what they call Starter Alw. where the horse cannot!! be claimed, and you can run in and win that race the entire meet, Dec. – March 31

    • Rob B

      Horses getting claimed helps the industry not hurts. The worst thing any owner or trainer can do is run a horse over it’s head due to a fear of being claimed. You run at the highest level that u feel they can win.

      • greg

        Thanks, I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, aside from disagreeing on your premise, which I would love to see why you think that way, it’s not relavent to my point

  • Threerules

    Broberg will never be able to figure this out. How about non winners of 2 races other than running under another name and sex.

  • Rob B

    So if a trainer has 21 horses he can’t enter a 16k claimer? All this crap does is limit who can enter which will make most races like this not fill

  • Nytex

    When I see all these races with 2 paragraphs of conditions, I just pass. There are plenty of races to play without trying to decipher for whom the race was scripted.

  • cheap seats

    Next up, the infamous Calder late extra, that made Ritvo leading trainer.

  • HorsePower Racing

    EVERY jurisdiction needs to find a delicate balance between the smaller outfits and those will more regional stock VS the large barns and elite calibre horses. If there is not an opportunity for ALL stakeholders, our Industry will certainly erode further. This new initiative may not be perfect and require some tweaking but it is a positive sign.

  • Ryan

    Does 20 stalls apply to stalls at santa anita? If yes, someone like peter miller who has a ton of horses but is based at san luis rey can enter

  • Nancy Taylor

    How about tinkering with the stale wagering menu to simulate business as well ? Add a low takeout late Pick 5 and do something to increase the rolling Daily Double pools, which have been as low as 19K on certain weekdays. Just have 4 Doubles a day or lower the takeout or have a guaranteed minimum pool, anything to make the wager relevant again. Del Mar should eliminate the Quinela and the Place Pick All, which most customers ignore. Getting rid of as many unpopular 23.68% ‘Sucker Bets’ as possible is a must. Finally, they should add the early Pick 4 which is popular despite the high takeout.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram