ENTRIES FOR OPENING DAY, DEC. 26, TO BE TAKEN WEDNESDAY; GRADE I LA BREA, GRADE II MATHIS BROTHERS MILE & GRADE III SAN SIMEON ALL PART OF BLOCKBUSTER NINE-RACE PROGRAM
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 19, 2016)–Headed by Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion Drefong, Santa Anita’s prestigious Grade I, seven furlong Malibu, to be run on opening day, Monday, Dec. 26, has attracted a star-studded roster of 22 three year old nominations, with entries to be taken for the Malibu and three other graded stakes on Wednesday.
Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Baoma Corp., Drefong, who also won the Grade I, seven furlong Kings Bishop Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 27, has five wins from six starts and is a leading candidate to be voted America’s Eclipse Champion Sprinter for 2016.
Drefong is likely to be joined in the starting gate by Mind Your Biscuits, who finished a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 5 and has remained in training at his Belmont Park base for trainer Robert Falcone, Jr.
Trainer Mark Casse’s multiple stakes winning Awesome Banner, currently based at Palm Meadows in south Florida, is also considered probable for the 65th running of the Malibu, which was won last year by eventual Eclipse Sprint Champ Runhappy.
Also prominent among the Malibu nominees is Baffert’s Mor Spirit, who’s been idle since well beaten in the Kentucky Derby May 7. Owned by Michael Lund Peterson, he was a winner of the Grade I Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity at two and the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes here on Feb. 6. He was subsequently second in both the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 12 and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
Although Breeders’ Cup Classic winning Arrogate is also among five horses nominated by Baffert, the grey son of Unbridled’s Song is expected to run instead in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 1, as he points to an epic rematch with California Chrome in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
In addition to the Malibu, three other opening day stakes closed on Friday; the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea, for 3-year old fillies at seven furlongs, the Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) for 3-year-olds, and the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon, for 3-year-olds and up at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.
Santa Anita will present a nine-race card on opening day, with special early first post time at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. and fans will once again receive Santa Anita’s popular 2017 wall calendar free, with paid admission. Courtesy of Mathis Brothers Furniture, the first 5,000 kids 12 and under will receive a plush Thoroughbred toy and all paid attendees will receive a Mathis Brothers gift certificate.
For more information on opening day events and racing at Santa Anita, please visit santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.