Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita Big ‘Cap Day in their own words

Game_One_Dude_Mike_Smith_1_72 (1)

Mike Smith celebrates winning the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on trainer Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude.


Quotes from Saturday’s stakes races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. The quotes are courtesy of the Santa Anita publicity department, headed by Mike Willman.

Grade II San Felipe for 3-year-olds


VICTOR ESPINOZA, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “It was great. He ran like I expected him to. Everything worked out today. I wanted to try something new today so I let him go right out of the gate. I don’t know if people expected me to go right to the lead but I wanted to let him enjoy his race, I just let him go. In these races, you can’t just try and do too much with them. I think it’s important for him to do his thing for the first five-eighths and be happy. It seems like he likes both tracks. He’s been training over at Los Al but he does things so much easier at Santa Anita after having trained at Los Al. He didn’t feel tired at all after the wire.”

MIKE SMITH, MIDNIGHT HAWK, SECOND: “He did good. He got away a bit slow. He didn’t break as well as we’d like, but in saying that, he had no excuse. The winner just beat me. I wish the outcome was different, but it is what it is.”

(On California Chrome): “He’s a serious 3-year-old. People should start paying attention to him now.

It was pretty straightforward, to be honest with you. Except for getting out a bit slow, what you saw was what happened. There are no hiccups after that. He (Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome) asked his horse to run as I did and he happened to have more than I did.”


 ART SHERMAN, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “I didn’t think he’d be on the lead, but he was a handful today. I just told Victor (Espinoza before the race), ‘You got him.’ I told him he broke like that because of that Quarter Horse training at Los Alamitos . . . We all know Santa Anita’s a speed-biased type of track, so it was really great to see him with the hold he had on him. It’s unbelievable.

“I’m looking at the race saying, ‘Well, I hope that horse (Midnight Hawk) doesn’t press him too hard, but I’ll tell you, when he asked him to go, he looked like a fresh horse, breaking, didn’t he? Maybe I’m looking at the wrong race, I don’t know. But I had a lot of fun watching him run.”

Asked if the Santa Anita Derby (April 5) might be next: “Well, we’ll kind of play it by ear. I needed this 50 points (see note below) and we’ll kind of see what happens. Now I think I deserve to go to the (Kentucky) Derby (May 3). I don’t think the distance will make any difference, a mile and a quarter. I think he’ll run all day.”

Asked what it’s like to have the first Derby horse training at Los Al: “The people are just great. The Quarter Horse people, I got more rooters over there today, you cannot believe it. Every Quarter Horse trainer came over and shook my hand and said, ‘Go get ‘em, Art.’ It made me feel good. They’re going to be proud tonight.”

BOB BAFFERT, MIDNIGHT HAWK, SECOND: “I told Mike, ‘That’s the horse you’ve got to beat.’ It was a two-horse race going in. He ran good. My horse ran huge. I was a little disappointed running second– he ran with that horse, but he couldn’t sustain it, and he got a little tired there at the end.

“You don’t want to see a horse go out that fast. When it gets warm like this, the track gets pretty fast. It’s pretty speed-biased. The horse that won it, he’s a good horse.”

DAVID HOFMANS, SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS, FOURTH: “I thought he ran OK. I’m sure he got tired, they ran really fast and maybe the track was a little hard for him today . . . but we’ll see. We’ll go from here!”

NOTES: The winning owners/breeders are Perry Martin of Yuba City, CA and Steve Coburn of Wellington NV. The San Felipe offered the following qualifying points for the May 3 Kentucky Derby: 50 for first, 20 for second, 10 for third and five for fourth.


Grade II San Carlos

Jockey quotes

JOEL ROSARIO, SAHARA SKY, WINNER: “It was a really good ride. He was in a little bit of trouble turning for home. I had to try and find some room and as soon as someone gave me enough room I tried to find my way through, and when I asked him he was good. He was good after all that.”

LUIS SAEZ, BIG MACHER, SECOND: “My horse has a lot of speed. He got in a good position. Coming into the stretch, I felt I had a lot of horse. My horse wasn’t tired; he could run, but the other horse beat me. He ran so hard.”

 MIKE SMITH, SHAKIN IT UP, FIFTH: (How did he end up on the inside coming down the lane?) “That was probably me trying to be too smart, honestly. The inside bias seems to be really playing big today, and being in the 10 hole, I was trying to make it as easy as possible. I had the opportunity to really cut the corner and save some ground, but in doing so, you have to get lucky and get through, and we didn’t. “Yeah, there was a lot of traffic (coming into the stretch), and I didn’t get clear. The winner ended up getting in the same predicament that I was in, but he was able to get out. I found a place to run late, but it wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked.”


 JERRY HOLLENDORFER, SAHARA SKY, WINNER, WILD DUDE, FOURTH, AND ZEEWAT, 10TH AND LAST: “Yes, the pace set up real well for him.” Asked if the No. 1 post position was a concern: “No, not for him, because he comes from out of it anyway. I just told Joel to help him away from there a little bit and not let him get 15 (lengths) out it.

“My eyes were on Wild Dude because he was the one that was prevalent coming down the lane. I thought he was going to win, then I saw Sahara Sky come on the outside. I heard him call Zeewat and I was trying to find where he was but I couldn’t find him . . . He (Sahara Sky) won the Met Mile last year and probably that would be the point race for him this year.”

 KIM LLOYD, PART OWNER OF SAHARA SKY: “He’s run so well fresh, and when he didn’t run his best race (fifth in the Palos Verdes), we felt he wasn’t fit. Obviously, that was the case, but you always wonder, and he settled that for us today.”

 RICHARD BALTAS, BIG MACHER, SECOND: “I thought he ran great. He did exactly what I told him. He didn’t need to lead if he didn’t have to and I think he rode him well. We got beat by a Grade I horse.

“The game plan was to break sharp and place the horse after that. He does have a lot of speed and he can carry it, but I didn’t want to get him caught behind horses drawing in. I told him to break him and put him in the race and if he gets the lead, fine. If someone else wants the lead, that’s OK, too. He rode him perfect.”

CRAIG LEWIS, CLUBHOUSE RIDE, THIRD: “I lost so much time with him and with the rain (last week) I couldn’t do what I wanted to do with him. That’s why I went in here, the San Carlos (as opposed to the Big ’Cap at 1 ¼ miles).”

NOTES: The winning owners are Jerry Hollendorfer of Point Richmond, CA, and Kim Lloyd (Sweetwater Stable) of Claremont, CA.


Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile


 COREY NAKATANI, WINNING PRIZE, WINNER: “I talked to Neil about it this morning, and we felt we were ready if he was going to go ahead and go and do his thing. We knew we could track him. I know this horse didn’t have to be on the lead, but today, it was coming easy to him, and I wasn’t going to take it away. Whatever he was comfortable with, we were going to do. We were getting a little bit of pressure, but I was able to get him relaxed. He had his ears pricked, and it was just nice and comfortable. He likes that high cruising speed, and we let him do the running, and he showed he was the best one today.”

 ORLANDO BOCACHICA, LOCHTE, SECOND: “I got a good break. I tried not to use him as much as I could. I tried to sit there and wait for a moment to open up. I think he (Winning Prize) held towards the end and that’s why he beat me.”


 NEIL DRYSDALE, WINNING PRIZE, WINNER: “We were expecting the other horse to go to the lead. When he took him back, it left us on the lead, and he wasn’t pressured badly – we went 23 and change, 46 and change. That horse is just quality. It makes a big difference when you can get away with an easy first half mile. That set us up well. He quickened well in the stretch. He’s changed and relaxes in his races. He’s becoming more adaptable the more we race him.”

 MARCUS VITALI, LOCHTE, SECOND: “I thought the ride was spectacular. Going a flat mile, I thought we had him tuned up for the flat mile. Orlando did a great job. He sat there, he was patient. He saved ground. The fence opened up a little bit and he made his big run. The six horse (Winning Prize) seemed to be a little bit better today, but overall, I’m pleased with everything. We shipped from Florida about eight days ago. I got here two days ago and watched him train yesterday. Everything seemed on target and I’m very pleased.

Next? “I’ll have to talk that over with Mrs. (Caroline) Vogel and we’ll come up with a game plan.”

FERNANDO FANTINI (RACING MANAGER FOR RON McANALLY), SUGGESTIVE BOY, THIRD: “This is a gift. He had a health problem eight months ago. He was supposed to not run ever again. He ran the Arcadia and wasn’t 100 percent, and now he’s starting to get back. Dr. (Larry) Bramlage said the horse could run again, and he was right. It’s absolutely a good feeling – we’re very happy.”

 CHRISTOPHE LOURIEL, ASSISTANT TO CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT, ZA APPROVAL, FOURTH: “I thought he might have tired a little bit. When you looked at the fractions, they were pretty decent. We’re disappointed, but I think he might have needed a race.”

 NOTES: The winning owners are Jose Nelson and David Heerensperger of Bellevue, WA.


Grade I Santa Anita Handicap


MIKE SMITH, GAME ON DUDE, WINNER: “I knew he was going to run today. I knew it from the post parade when we turned around to go to the gate. He was on his toes today, he was on fire. He’s like that when he runs well. He ran big; I just had that feeling that he was going to. Down the backside he was happy, he was cruisin’, he was well within himself. He was throwing numbers, I knew we were going fast; I actually went even faster this time than I did last time (San Antonio Feb. 8). I got yelled at for going fast last time and that was forty-six; we went forty-five today and that’s at a mile and a quarter!

“Bob told me to trust him, that I would have a different horse this time. He didn’t think he had him exactly where he wanted him for the San Antonio. Bob told me not to be down, that he didn’t have him ready. He had him 110 percent today and when it comes to Bob, that’s who you want to be riding for on big days.

“I knew he was going to have to run today because they came at me. But when they came at me he dropped to the ground. When he needs to, he fires.

“I knew they would have to be better than him today to beat him. Like I’ve said before, when he shows up he can run with anybody in the world. We may throw in a dud every now and then but he makes up for it!”

LUIS SAEZ, WILL TAKE CHARGE, SECOND: “He ran so hard. He’s very good and was in good position all the way. At the half-mile pole, I saw Game On Dude going so comfortably. My horse still ran good. It’s OK. I wanted to be following Mucho Macho Man, (because I thought that was the horse with the best chance to win).”

 AARON GRYDER, BLINGO, THIRD: “He ran great. We knew we were up against some very good horses and he had to step up and I do believe he did. He ran a very good race. His first time going a mile and a quarter and he cut it real nice. He gave a good account of himself. It was his first time going the distance and he was still running down the lane. He had to run to pass Mucho Macho Man and I was very pleased with his effort. He runs hard. He’s improving.”

 GARY STEVENS, MUCHO MACHO MAN, FOURTH: “He broke real well for me, and I was actually in a pretty good spot, and then Rafael (Bejarano, on Rousing Sermon) came up on me and made him move right along. I slipped to the outside, where I wanted to be, going into the back stretch. (Luis Saez) came with Will Take Charge and attacked me about the half-mile pole. That probably was a winning move had Game On Dude not been on his game today. I was fourth-best, and the champ arrived again today at Santa Anita, and Will Take Charge was second-best.”

(Did your horse do anything differently today?)

“He was a complete professional – he warmed up good, ran good. I was very happy. The race really started at the half-mile pole when Luis engaged me and I couldn’t go with him. I was basically empty at the 3/8 pole. That’s a bad feeling in a race like this and on a horse like that when you know at the 3/8 pole that you don’t have a chance to win.”


 BOB BAFFERT, GAME ON DUDE, WINNER: “They went fast but he was rockin’, he was rollin’. The Dude showed up. Last time (the San Antonio), he wasn’t ready . . . He had to do it today. I just told Mike Smith, ‘When they expect you to be on the lead, you have to be on the lead. Just let him rip, do his thing and if it happens, it happens.’”

Asked about Game On Dude becoming the first-time three-time winner of the Big ’Cap: “Bernie (Schiappa) is the only guy (owner) here today. To me, it’s an emotional win for the horse. It kills me when they knock on him, but we came in here quiet and that’s the way I like to come in. We came in under the radar and we were ready for them.”

 KATHY RITVO, MUCHO MACHO MAN, FOURTH: “It’s going to take us some time to figure it out (what happened). I’m going to watch it again.” Question: Mentioned that it didn’t seem to be his day? “That happens.”

NOTES: Game On Dude is the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap three times, in this, its 77th running. The winning owners are Joe Torre of Harrison, NY (Diamond Pride LLC); Lanni Family Trust of Pasadena; Ernest Moody of Las Vegas (Mercedes Stable, LLC); and Bernie Schiappa of Las Vegas. Today’s on-track attendance was 27,121.

Breeders' Cup, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Will Take Charge to face Mucho Macho Man in Big ‘Cap

From Ed Golden of the Santa Anita publicity department:

“We’re coming.”

With those words this morning from D. Wayne Lukas, the stage is set for one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in recent memory, one between Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.

The two handicap stars finished a scant nose apart in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita last Nov. 2. The Lukas-trained Will Take Charge, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding 3-year-old of 2013, was second in the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in his 2014 debut on Feb. 9.

With two-time Santa Anita Handicap winner and defending champion Game On Dude waiting in the wings for the mile and a quarter Big ‘Cap, story lines abound for the 77th edition of the historic race, which has been won by turf legends such as Seabiscuit, Noor, Round Table, Ack Ack, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Best Pal and Lava Man, among many others.

Mucho Macho Man, 14-length winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18, committed to Santa Anita’s signature race on Saturday when trainer Kathy Ritvo and Finn Green, Racing Manager for owners Dean and Patti Reeves, announced they would be coming to Santa Anita for the Big ‘Cap.

Pending flight arrangements, Lukas said he hoped to ship Will Take Charge to California on “March 3 or 4.” Mucho Macho Man is scheduled to work Saturday in Florida and ship to California the following day, Sunday, Feb. 23.

Meanwhile, the countdown is on to March 8.

Breeders' Cup, Del Mar, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Breeders’ Cup 2014: Fair Santa Anita track needed both days

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

First, let me state, I enjoyed covering almost every minute of last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup.

Put me in the category of the Breeders’ Cup should be in California every year —- whether it be Santa Anita, or maybe the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club some year down the line. I think the weather outweighs a lot of negatives.

Then, again, I understand that a historic track like Churchill Downs should also be in the rotation every three or four years. As for the East, forget about it. No more, Monmouth Park monsoons. I really don’t care if owner Mike Repole keeps his horses in Todd Pletcher’s barn in New York because The Cup won’t come back to Belmont Park.

The one negative in my mind for Santa Anita is its racing surface.

I found Santa Anita president Keith Brackpool’s comments to Ed Zieralski of the San Diego Union-Tribune to be out of touch.

“I haven’t slept in six days,” Brackpool said. “Look, we’ve been blessed with the weather. We had great fields, great races, fair races. Standing here in the paddock before the last, this is the best Breeders’ Cup I’ve seen in years.”

Keith, did u watch Friday’s races? Or even Thursday’s races? What was fair about them?

When I arrived on Thursday, it was obvious the Santa Anita track was a paved highway for inside speed. The jockeys took notice and acted accordingly.

On Friday, it was more of the same. Would the winners still have won on a fair track? Maybe, but we’ll never know.

According to at least one media report I read, BC officials were concerned and told Santa Anita officials that. The affect was immediate, as those of us who were still working after the races on late Friday afternoon saw with our own eyes. The tractors were out working the inside of the track. They didn’t stop for a reported 10 hours.

Saturday’s surface was fair to all horses, speed types and closers. The best horses won. There’s no doubt in my mind.

The problem is that handicappers, people who bet their money and make this game go round and round, didn’t know what to expect until they saw some results.

Saturday’s track should have been Thursday and Friday’s track.

Trainer Bob Baffert said a week before the event he was concerned about the surface because it changed on a “day-to-day basis.” He was right and Santa Anita needs to take measures to have a fair surface all the time and especially at Breeders’ Cup 2014.

Surfaces can’t change from day to day. That’s a recipe for injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, BC 2013 had two horses suffer broken legs. Centralintelligence suffered one on Friday and had surgery on Sunday. Baffert’s nice 2-year-old filly Secret Compass suffered one in the Juvenile Fillies on Saturday and had to be euthanized.

Del Mar track officials and trainers have told me through the years that their biggest fears for catastrophic injuries always came at the beginning of the meet because horses were changing surfaces from Hollywood Park to the seaside oval.

Did Santa Anita’s working of the track surface overnight result in Secret Compass’ death and jockey’s John Velasquez’s injuries (he was aboard the filly and had to undergo emergency surgery to have his spleen removed)? We’ll probably never know, but it’s something to ponder.

I hope to be at BC 31 in 2014 at Santa Anita. I also hope the track is safe and fair.

Now for a little bookkeeping from last week as we got behind on posting the results of our picks:

Thursday’s top choice winners: 3 (Pasalm Sixteen $6, first race; Sinfully $7.40, third; Koast $8.40, fifth)

Thursday’s second and third choice winners: 0

Thursday’s long shot winners: 2 (Majestic City $32.40, sixth; Bright Town $18.80, eighth)


Friday’s top choice winners: 2 (Chriselliam $15.80, ninth race; Beholder $7.60, 10th)

Friday’s second choice winners: 1 (Heir of Storm $77.60, second)

Friday’s third choice winners: 1 (Pure Loyalty $10.80, first)

Friday’s fourth choice winners: 1 (Goldencents $9.60, eighth)

Friday’s long shot winners: 0


Saturday’s top choice winners: 5 (Richies Party Girl $15.60, first; Dank $5, fifth; Mizdirection $7.40, seventh; New Year’s Day $23, eighth; Mucho Macho Man $10, 12th)

Saturday’s second choice winners: 4 (Pontchatrain $6.60, third; Magician $27, ninth; Secret Circle $7, 10th; Wise Dan $3.60, 11th)

Saturday’s third choice winners: 1 (Zeewat $12, second)

Saturday’s fourth choice winners: 0

Saturday’s long shot winners: 1 (Ria Antonia $66.60, fourth)

Breeders' Cup, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Breeders’ Cup comes all the way back


Comebacks were the order of the day during Breeders’ Cup 30 at Santa Anita Park Saturday.

Three defending champions returned to the winner’s circle: Groupie Doll ($8) in the Filly & Mare Sprint, Jim Rome’s Mizdirection ($7.40) in the Turf Sprint and Wise Dan ($3.60) in the Mile.

But the biggest comeback of all was saved for the marquee race on the card, the $5 million Classic as Mucho Macho Man ($10) returned to make up for last year’s runner-up finish to Fort Larned —- who finished fourth Saturday —- with 50-year-old jockey Gary Stevens, who returned to riding this year after a seven-year absence from the saddle, and trainer Kathy Ritvo, who had a heart transplant five years ago.

Mucho Macho Man had to survive a thrilling, three-horse driving finish as the 5-year-old beat 3-year-old Will Take Charge by a nose in 2 minutes, 00.72 seconds and it was another head back to European Declaration of War.

”The race was a mile‑and‑a‑quarter, and not a mile‑and‑a‑quarter and a stride, so it was perfect,” Stevens said. “Had I known it was that close, I probably wouldn’t have celebrated. But we’re not wrong very often. He had his head down. He was fully stretched out, and just a tremendous training job by Kathy and a tremendous effort from a great, great horse.”

Ritvo was just hoping her horse had made her the first woman to train a Classic winner.

“When I saw Gary shake his stick, I was confident,” she said.

On the other end, trainer D. Wayne Lukas had to suffer the heartbreak of a close loss.

“The first time by, I said no (Will Take Charge) lost,” Lukas said. “The second time, I thought he won it. The third time they ran it by, I said, ‘No, he was second. ‘ ”

Stevens said it was the culmination of his career to win his first BC Classic.

“This was a tremendous experience to win this race at my age,” Stevens said. “I never expected to be in this situation. This is the ultimate feeling. It’s the icing on the cake of my career.”

With happiness of the Classic, also came some sadness from trainer Bob Baffert’s camp, which had an up- and-down day.

Game On Dude, the betting favorite for a second straight year in the Classic, finished a disappointing ninth after contesting the pace early and faltering on the turn for home.

“When I saw (Game On Dude) going real fast on the backstretch, I knew I was going to be in trouble,” Baffert said. “Then when Mike (Smith, jockey) asked him, there was nothing there.”

Earlier on the program,  Baffert won two races, but his day got off to a bad start when prized 2-year-old filly Secret Compass broke down on the turn for home with a fractured leg in the Juvenile Fillies and had to be euthanized. Jockey John Velazquez was injured in the incident, taken to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to have his spleen removed.

Baffert won the Juvenile with New Year’s Day ($23) and Sprint with Secret Circle ($7), but it was still a melancholy afternoon.

“When you lose a horse like that, it just takes all the wind out of our sails,” Baffert said. “These horses are so close to us … For it to happen, we’re all still in shock. Just the win (in the Juvenile) is exciting, but you still, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about that filly.”

Ria Antonia ($66.60) won the ill-fated Juvenile Fillies when original winner She’s a Tiger, ridden by Stevens, was disqualified for bumping her in the stretch.

The Europeans again dominated on the turf, save for Wise Dan’s win, as Dank ($5) took the Filly & Mare Turf and Magician ($27) won the Turf over fellow Euro The Fugue.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Mucho Macho Man tops BC work list at Santa Anita

From Ed Golden of the Santa Anita publicity department:

Awesome Again Stakes winner Mucho Macho Man had his penultimate workout Saturday morning prior to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, going five furlongs in 1:02.20.

“Mucho’s” fractional times were 26 1/5 and 40 4/5, with a gallop-out clocking of 1:15 for six furlongs. “He went very well,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “He had a great work today and he’ll have one more before the Classic.”

Also working for the Classic was Travers runner-up Moreno, who went five furlongs in company for trainer Eric Guillot in 1:00.60. Workmate Distort This was given 1:01.40. Joe Talamo, who rides Moreno in the Classic, was aboard for the work.

“He went really well,” Guillot said. “He galloped out seven-eighths in (one) 26 and four.”

Caracortado (Turf Sprint) worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:12.20.

“He went real nice and he looks great right now,” trainer Mike Machowsky said of the California-bred gelding. “He finished strong and galloped out good.”

Silver Max (Mile), who upset reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Shadwell Mile, worked four furlongs for Dale Romans in 46.80, while Authenticity (Distaff) went four furlongs for Todd Pletcher in 47 flat, along with workmate We Miss Artie, who was given the identical clocking.

Also working for Romans was defending Turf winner Little Mike, who went five furlongs on the main track in 1:01. His splits were 23 4/5, 36 2/5, 49 flat and 1:01 flat, with a gallop-out time of 1:15 for six furlongs.

“She’ll have one more breeze (before the Distaff),” said Pletcher assistant Mike McCarthy, who has been at Santa Anita with Authenticity since she ran second to Beholder in the Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 28.

“It was partly a matter of economics in keeping her here,” McCarthy said. “There was little point in shipping her back to New York after the Zenyatta and then coming back to Santa Anita for the Distaff.”

FrontRunner runner-up Dance With Fate (Juvenile) worked six furlongs for Peter Eurton in 1:12.80.

At Hollywood Park Friday, Rodeo Drive Stakes winner Tiz Flirtatious worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in a minute flat, breezing. “Very nice,” said trainer Marty Jones, who has her ticketed for the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 2.

Horse racing

Updated Santa Anita picks for Saturday, Sept. 28


Chips All In and jockey Julien Leparoux, green, overpower Boat Trip (Garrett Gomez), red, to win the Grade III, $100,000 Eddie D. Stakes, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 at Santa Anita Park. BENOIT PHOTO


Well, it certainly wasn’t anything close to opening day at Del Mar, as Santa Anita’s fall opener drew only 4,537 on Friday. It will be interesting to see what Del Mar draws in 2014 for its first ever fall meeting.

On thing was sure on Friday in Arcadia: trainer Bob Baffert was back on his favorite surface: dirt. Baffert scored two wins and his horses were ready to run.

On the jockey front, nine races produced nine different winners.

Saturday should prove interesting with Breeders’ Cup preps front and center at the Great Race Place and around the country, too.


FIRST RACE: 1. Yana, 2. Moving Seas, 3. Versye. LONG SHOT: Another Victoria.


SECOND RACE: 1. Southern Sunrise, 2. Hello Frankie, 3. Topper’s Ghost. LONG SHOT: Tribal Smoke.


THIRD RACE: 1. Shiva Ryan, 2. All for Us, 3. Cautious Giant. LONG SHOT: Closet E.

Trainer Bisnath Parboo ships this 2-year-old colt, SHIVA RYAN, West to try and break his maiden around two turns on the grass. The son of Tapit did well at Calder with a third-place finish after a slow start in his career. He figures to improve off that effort and we should get a nice price with jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard. It looks like all of the shippers have a shot here so don’t discount ALL FOR US  and CLOSET E.


FOURTH RACE: 1. I See Back, 2. Kristo, 3. Da Bears. LONG SHOT: Quick and Silver.


FIFTH RACE (Grade I Chandelier): 1. Secret Compass, 2. Fascinating, 3. She’s a Tiger. LONG SHOT: Antiquity.


SIXTH RACE (Grade I Rodeo Drive): 1. TIZ FLIRTATIOUS (best bet), 2. My Gi Gi, 3. Starstruck. LONG SHOT: Vionnet.


SEVENTH RACE (Grade I Frontrunner): 1. Can the Man, 2. Dance With Ftae, 3. Tamarando. LONG SHOT: Schoolofhardrocks.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Burns Turn, 2. Rosies Ready, 3. Smooth Talker. LONG SHOT: Our Pure Creation.


NINTH RACE (Grade I Zenyatta): 1. Beholder, 2. Authenticity, 3. Joyful Victory. LONG SHOT: Flashy American.


10th RACE (Grade I Awesome Again): 1. Mucho Macho Man, 2. Golden Ticket, 3. Paynter. LONG SHOT: Jeranimo.


11th RACE: 1. Pontchatrain, 2. Heir Kitty, 3. Judy In Disguise. LONG SHOT: Moulin de Mougin.

This 3-year-old War Front filly, PONTCHATRAIN, showed a lot of promise in winning an allowance race at Del Mar on July 28, but she came back in a minor stakes and was just too keen after getting bumped at the start and finished fourth. With a little more conservative ride from jockey Gary Stevens, this Tom Proctor-trainee could love the hillside turf course.

Friday’s top pick winners: 0

Friday’s second choice winners: 2 (Oh Daddy Oh $6.60, 2nd race; Hurray Home Clover $9.20, 5th race)

Friday’s third choices winners: 2 (Georgia $4.20, 1st race; Tiz the Truth $6.60, 7th race)

Friday’s long shot winners: 0

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter