Santa Anita Park will feature 10 grade I stakes races and will offer more than $12 million in stakes purses during its 70th season of racing, which begins Dec. 26. Santa Anita will offer 73 stakes, 44 of them graded, during the upcoming 85-day meeting. The prestigious Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs will once again highlight the opening day festivities.Santa Anita will offer $1.6 million in stakes purses for 3-year-old dirt horses pointing for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in 2007, culminating with the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 7."We offer more graded stakes opportunities for aspiring 3-year-olds than anyone else in America, and we fully expect to once again be showcasing some of the best Derby prospects in the world," said Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita racing secretary.Distances for Santa Anita's major 3-year-old stakes will once again follow a lengthening progression. The San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) will be run at one mile on Jan. 13. It will be followed by a pair of 1 1/16 mile Derby preps, the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) (formerly the Santa Catalina) on March 3, and the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) on March 17. Then it's on to the Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles. The meet figures to also be highlighted by the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 3.
"We were up dramatically on-track last season and if the weather cooperates again this season, we hope to be up again," said Ron Charles, Santa Anita president. "We think Santa Anita is the most beautiful racing venue in America and we are excited to be hosting what we believe is the premier race meet in the country. At Santa Anita, our emphasis is on our on-track business."