Santa Anita unwraps its 82nd winter meet on Wednesday with the Arcadia, Calif., racetrack's traditional day-after-Christmas opening card featuring 10 races, including four graded stakes, two of them – the Malibu and La Brea – Grade 1.
Special first post time is 11:30 a.m. PT. This year's opening-day program offers a vast betting menu with a $1-million guaranteed payout should one player be the lone winner of the single ticket Pick Six jackpot. The 20-cent base wager begins on the fifth race, with an approximate post time of 1:30 p.m. PT.
Last year's opening-day crowd of 40,023 contributed toward total handle of more than $17 million. The all-time wagering record for opening day at Santa Anita is $19,004,625 bet in 2005 when opening day fell on a Monday, traditionally the strongest day of the week for Santa Anita to begin its meet.
Following Wednesday's opening, Thursday will be a “dark” day, with racing resuming on Friday and running daily until New Year's Day, Tuesday, Jan. 1. The following weekend is abbreviated, with racing on Friday-Sunday, then resumes on a Thursday-Sunday basis after that, with the exception of holiday weeks. The winter meet runs through April 7, one day after the running of the G1 Santa Anita Derby, a race won in 2018 by eventual Triple Crown winner Justify. Another big day of the winter meet is March 9, when the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap will be run. See the complete winter meet stakes schedule here.
Evin Roman won the jockey title during the 2017-'18 winter meet, edging Flavient Prat by one winner, 46 to 45. Justify's conditioner, Bob Baffert, ran away with the training title, winning with 37 of his 116 winter meet starters.
The Lady of Shamrock kicks off the stakes action as Wednesday's fourth race. The one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies is headed by Jeff Mullins-trained Amandine, an English-bred who won convincingly in her U.S. debut at Del Mar in November.
The sixth through the ninth races are all graded stakes, beginning with the La Brea for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs. Undefeated Dream Tree, trained by Baffert, is the 8-5 morning line favorite as she bids for her sixth consecutive victory in her first start since winning the G2 Prioress at Saratoga on Sept. 2. Eight fillies will try to knock her off in the La Brea.
The seventh race is the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. Mullins has the early favorite in that race in the name of Irish-bred River Boyne, who was narrowly defeated last out by Raging Bull in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar in November.. A field of 11 has been entered in the Mathis Brothers Mile.
The Grade 2 San Antonio at 1 1/16 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds and up attracted nine entrants, led by Grade 1 winner Battle of Midway, who took the 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
An overflow field of 16 runners entered the seven-furlong Malibu, including several out-of-state shippers trained by the likes of Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Timothy Keefe, Dale Romans, Al Stall and George Weaver. Baffert has a strong hand in the Malibu, entering five runners, led by Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby winner McKinzie.
See the Santa Anita live racing website for more information on the 2018-'19 winter meet.
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