Led by the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park announced its 2011-12 stakes schedule which will include nine grade I events over the course of its 79-day meet which will conclude April 22.
The Malibu will be one of four stakes offered on opening day, joined by the Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. II), the California Breeders Champion Stakes, and the California Breeders Champion Stakes for fillies.
The $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 3 and the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 7, once again figure prominently among the meeting’s marquee events.
Also included on Santa Anita’s grade I stakes roster are the La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Dec. 31, the Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares on Jan. 28, the Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on March 3, the Santa Margarita Stakes on March 3, and the Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on March 31.
“We’ve made several adjustments to our schedule and we feel this lineup is going to be very appealing to our horsemen,” said Santa Anita Vice president of racing Rick Hammerle. “We moved the La Brea from opening day to Dec. 31 and we added a couple of $200,000 California-bred stakes on March 31, the Echo Eddie for 3-year-olds and the Evening Jewel for 3-year-old fillies.”
Significant changes to the stakes schedule were also announced, as the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I) and the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies will head a total of four stakes on Sunshine Millions Day Jan. 28.
Another change of note centers on a prep for the Santa Anita Derby, the $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III). Run in 2011 on Jan. 15 at 1 1/16 miles, the Sham will now be run on Jan. 7 at one mile.
Santa Anita’s traditional closing day feature, the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIIT) for older horses at 1 3/4 miles on turf will be carded as the meet’s final race on April 22.