The Golden Era of the Santa Anita Handicap

A look at the winners of the Santa Anita Handicap from 1979 - 1989.

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1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed was back in 1979, winning 6 grade I races, including the Santa Anita Handicap. He would be named Horse of the Year for the second year in a row.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

Affirmed took control on the turn, and came home 4 1/2 lengths in front under Laffit Pincay Jr., stopping the clock in 1:58 3/5.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

Spectacular Bid faced a sloppy track, and carried 130 pounds in the 1980 Santa Anita Handicap, but romped by an easy 5 lengths.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

Spectacular Bid and jockey Bill Shoemaker in the dark Winner's Circle after the Santa Anita Handicap.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

John Henry was primarily known as a grass horse before his triumph in the 1981 Santa Anita Handicap.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

John Henry and Laffit Pincay Jr. come home in front over King Go Go.

John Henry (left) was back in 1982. This time ridden by Bill Shoemaker, and carrying 130 pounds, he came up a nose short to Perrault. However, Perrault was disqualified for interference, and John Henry became the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap twice.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Bates Motel and Terry Lipham took the 1983 Santa Anita Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths. Bates Motel was named Champion older horse for 1983.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Interco stole the show in the 1984 Santa Anita Handicap.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Interco and Pat Valenzuela won over a field that included 1982 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Gato Del Sol, and John Henry, who finished 5th.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

A record crowd saw Lord At War come home in front in the 1985 Santa Anita Handicap.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Lord At War was the 11th Santa Anita Handicap winner ridden by Bill Shoemaker.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Greinton, who finished second to Lord At War in 1985, got the victory in 1986. Both Lord At War and Greinton were trained by Charlie Whittingham, who won 9 Big 'Caps in all.

Photo: Blood-Horse Library

Greinton and Laffit Pincay take the race by 3/4-length over Herat.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

It was an epic battle in the 1987 Santa Anita Handicap, with Broad Brush under Angel Cordero Jr. getting his nose in front of 1986 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Ferdinand.

Photo: Santa Anita Park

Just four ran in the 1988 Santa Anita Handicap, with 1987 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Alysheba taking it by 1/2 length over Ferdinand.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

Chris McCarron celebrates the victory aboard Alysheba.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

The Santa Anita Handicap was one of 7 Graded Stakes wins for Alysheba in 1988, and he was named Horse of the Year.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

The '80s ended with Martial Law shocking the Santa Anita Handicap field, paying $103.60.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

The 1989 Santa Anita Handicap was the only career stakes victory for Martial Law, who was trained by Julio Canani.

Photo: Four Footed Fotos

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