Santa Anita Park dodged the rain, which hit Southern California Christmas day but left skies sunny for the traditional Dec. 26 opening day. A crowd of 33,112 attended, an increase of 9.8% over the 30,156 fans at the 2007 opener.
Favored Gio Ponti waited for room under a patient Garrett Gomez and blasted through the pack mid-stretch to win the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes going away in a race taken off the Santa Anita Park turf course and transferred to the Pro-Ride main surface Dec. 26.
Bob Black Jack went gate to wire to easily win the $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds on opening day of the 2008-09 season at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26. It was the first graded stakes win for the California-bred Bob Black Jack.
Unusual Suspect, guided by Chantal Sutherland, overtook the leaders in upper stretch en route to a one-length win in the $73,500 Silveyville Stakes on opening day of the 118-day Golden Gate Fields winter/spring meet Dec. 26.
Clever Allemont, a 26-year-old stallion, has been rescued from the road to slaughter and will be shipped to Kentucky to spend the rest of his days at Old Friends near Georgetown.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the CashCall Futurity (gr. I), is one of three Empire Maker sons whose recent performances have helped grow their sire's reputation among breeders. The others are Daiwa Prevail (JPN) and Summer's Empire.
Ruhlmann, the seven-time stakes-winning stallion and winner of the 1990 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), died Dec. 24 at the age of 23, Old Friends owner Michael Blowen said.
Jockey Sam Thompson, who was injured during a spill at Los Alamitos Dec. 20, died at 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 25. Since the accident, Thompson was on life support in the coronary care unit at Los Alamitos Medical Center. When he began to fail, the decision was made to remove the life support. He was 36.
William G. "Blackie" Huffman, a trainer whose son Ben Huffman serves as racing secretary at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, died Dec. 24 following a short illness.
Parade Ground, a multiple graded stakes winner, will stand at Ted Griffith's Legend Farm near Coleman, Okla.
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