Santa Anita Notebook


OCTOBER 4, 2012

by John Mucciolo

A slew of graded races highlighted the opening weekend of racing at Santa Anita.

Awesome Again S. (G1): Lanni et al's GAME ON DUDE (Awesome Again) tracked in second, took the lead turning for home and never looked back in posting a measured 3 1/4-length victory in this one. The Bob Baffert charge sped nine panels on the fast main oval in 1:48 4/5 under Rafael Bejarano, setting himself up as the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic over the same track on November 3.

Rodeo Drive S. (G1): Glen Hill Farm's MARKETING MIX (Medaglia d'Oro) moved to the fore in the early stretch and cruised home a 2 1/4-length winner for trainer Tom Proctor. The classy four-year-old stopped the teletimer in 1:59 12/5 for the 10-furlong grass affair under Garrett Gomez and rates as the top American-based contender for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Zenyatta S. (G1): Green Hills Farm's LOVE AND PRIDE (A.P. Indy) took the lead soon after the start and never looked back in registering a 3 1/4-length score under Martin Garcia. The surging four-year-old, who bagged her second straight Grade 1 tally in here, went 1 1/16 miles on the fast main oval in 1:43 for trainer Todd Pletcher. She will face a much deeper field next time in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

FrontRunner (G1): Gary and Mary West's POWER BROKER (Pulpit) tracked in third early, took the lead in early stretch and poured it on late in posting a 6 1/2-length tally to break his maiden. The Baffert pupil traveled 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 2/5 under Bejarano, establishing himself as top contender in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Chandelier S. (G1): Pegram, Watson and Weitman's EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE (First Samurai) ran her unbeaten streak to five with a most convincing 6 1/4-length romp for Baffert. The stylish juvenile lass led at every call, finishing off 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5 under Bejarano, and should be the solid favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

John Henry Turf Championship S. (G2): Phil Cunningham's homebred SLIM SHADEY (Val Royal) was sent to the front early, opened up a big edge on the backside, and never slowed in posting a 2 1/4-length tally in this one under a fine ride by Garrett Gomez. The Simon Callaghan trainee went in a solid 1:59 for the 1 1/4 miles on the firm lawn, and he will try to carry his form forward over 1 1/2 miles in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Eddie D. S. (G3): Mike McCarty's UNBRIDLED NOTE (Unbridled's Song) took to this turf course like a pro with a closing rush to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths. The sophomore colt completed the about 6 1/2 furlongs against his elders in 1:12 2/5 for trainer Steve Asmussen and pilot Corey Nakatani. The Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint is next.

Track Stats

From a total of 30 races held at the Arcadia, California, racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 40 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 60 percent of the wins. From 19 frays contested on the dirt oval, five animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (26 percent), while one of the 11 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (9 percent).

The main oval was surely very good to horses on or just off the early pace this weekend, especially on Friday and Saturday. The oval seemed a bit more balanced on Sunday.

It's hard to make any snap judgments about the lawn, with only 11 races run upon it.

Meet Totals

RACES:   30
DIRT:   19
TURF:   11
FAVORITES:   12 (40 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   6 (20 percent)
TURF WIRE:   1 (9 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   5 (26 percent)


Friday (9/28)

3RD -- REGULUS (Distorted Humor) continues to ascend for trainer Eoin Harty, rating early, taking over in early stretch and holding off a stern test in a sharp allowance tally. The improving sophomore could be evolving into a stakes player, as his dam got a lot better with experience.

8TH -- Unbridled's Note really looked the part late in this fine tally, and we peg him as one to watch in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint over the same course.

Saturday (9/29)

1ST -- CODE WEST (Lemon Drop Kid) didn't have much chance when his stablemate cleared this field early, but the Baffert trainee finished up well to be more than six lengths clear of third. The colt should graduate soon.

7TH -- CAPO BASTONE (Street Boss) ran a very good one in his dirt and route debut, closing from last to be third on an oval where nothing was making up ground. The John Sadler trainee should be tougher next time on a fairer oval.

10TH -- NONIOS (Pleasantly Perfect) rebounded from a listless try in the Travers Stakes with a very nice second here, and the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil should only improve.

Sunday (9/30)

6TH -- GOLDEN RULE (Roman Ruler) was last early but closed really well to be second in this one for conditioner Mike Puype, who is much better with second time starters. We'd have to think this sophomore filly will be very tough in her comeback race.

8TH -- DISTRACTING (Distorted Humor) stayed unbeaten from a pair of lifetime tries when holding off a classy and more experienced foe in this one. The sophomore filly looked like she had more in the tank late and should move forward off of this one. She could be of stakes quality.

A Look Ahead

A pair of graded races will be held on Saturday at Santa Anita: the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes and the Grade 2, $150,000 Arroyo Seco Mile Stakes.