San Juan Capistrano Winner to be Invited to Melbourne Cup

The winner of Sunday’s San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita will receive an automatic invitation to compete in this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I), according to a strategic partnership announced Thursday by Santa Anita and the Victoria Racing Club.

George Haines, vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Turf Club, made the announcement after the day’s races with Sue Lloyd Williams, deputy chief executive of the VRC, and James Earls, the VRC general manager racing.

“We believe strongly in international racing,” Haines said. “Sue Lloyd Williams approached Santa Anita in the hopes that we could deliver the first American-owned and -raced horse to run in the Melbourne Cup.”

Williams and Earls had the 2007 Melbourne Cup trophy on display in the Santa Anita turf club during the announcement. The three-handled loving cup is the most recognizable sporting trophy in Australia, and it is in the process of touring 12 international destinations.

“We’re proud of our strategic alliance with one of America’s premier racing clubs,” Williams said. “With the San Juan Capistrano being the showcase of America’s best staying horses, we’re hoping to get our first American starter in the Melbourne Cup. It is a race that holds a special place in the hearts of all Australians.”

The two-mile Melbourne Cup will be run Nov. 6 and is valued at approximately US$4.2 million. The San Juan Capistrano is run over the entire Santa Anita downhill turf course at a distance of about 1 3/4 miles.

As part of the partnership announcement, Santa Anita conducted the post-position draw for the upcoming San Juan. Morning-line favorite Sweet Return drew post 3 in the seven-horse field, which also includes One Off, Fitz Flag, Embossed, On the Acorn, Icy Ridge, and Boule d’Or.

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