With Santa Anita Park's traditional Winter/Spring Meeting set to open on Tuesday, Dec. 26, several eastern-based stables have announced their intentions to bring horses west in order to take advantage of Santa Anita's newly announced “Ship and Stay” program as well as outstanding purses and world class conditions.
Blessed with the prospect of good weather, tremendous training and racing surfaces, and ample opportunities at all class levels, Santa Anita remains an attractive destination for horsemen worldwide on a year 'round basis. In addition to a one-of-a-kind turf course and natural dirt training and main tracks, Santa Anita's “Ship and Stay” program provides significant bonuses to owners and trainers who bring horses from out of state to The Great Race Place.
According to Santa Anita Vice President of Racing, Rick Hammerle, trainers George Weaver and Robert Falcone, Jr. will collectively be bringing in “about 40 to 50” new horses for the upcoming meet. “We'll also have a number of trainers bringing in horses from out of state for our graded stakes on opening day and through the (Grade I) American Oaks on Dec. 30,” Hammerle said.
Other out-of-state trainers who have expressed interest in running horses at the upcoming Winter/Spring stand include Steve Asmussen, who used Santa Anita's training facilities as a springboard to victory in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 4 with Gun Runner, Todd Pletcher, Mark Casse, Graham Motion, Dale Romans, Chad Brown, Jimmy Jerkens and perhaps others.
“In addition to the likely prospect of great weather and the ability to utilize a tremendous facility, our new 'Ship and Stay' program has people buzzing,” said Hammerle. “People around the country know they can come here, run their horses in realistic spots and be generously compensated. For horses at the higher end, we of course have ample graded stakes opportunities, top riders and outstanding purses.
“Additionally, we have access to great accommodations for all horsemen. The response we're getting from owners, trainers and breeders has been very encouraging and I think the word is out that Santa Anita is a better option than ever, for both horses and people.”
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