ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 8, 2016)–Santa Anita’s 23-day Autumn Meet drew to a close on Sunday with the track posting significant gains in attendance and handle, independent of a highly successful two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships event that was hosted by Santa Anita for a record ninth time this past Friday and Saturday.
On-track attendance for the 21 non-Breeders’ Cup racing days was up 25 percent compared to 19 racing days a year ago, while on-track handle showed an increase over 21 days of 15 percent over 19 days in 2015. Average daily attendance saw a 14 percent hike and average daily on-track handle was up four percent. All sources handle for the 21 non Breeders’ Cup days was up 12 percent.
The great California Chrome’s smashing 2 ¼ length win in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes on Oct. 1 rated as the top non-Breeders’ Cup performance and helped the set the stage for an epic Breeders’ Cup Classic Day Nov. 5.
Perennial riding kingpin Rafael Bejarano notched his 15th Santa Anita riding title with 22 wins, two more than runner-up Kent Desormeaux. The Autumn Meet title was Bejarano’s 32nd overall title and his 27th in Southern California. Bejarano had two stakes wins, finishing three behind both Desormeaux and Flavien Prat.
Peter Miller led the trainers’ race from gate to wire, and outlasted runners-up Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill by a score of 23-20. With Arrogate’s stirring half length win in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic leading the way, Baffert bested Phil D’Amato in the stakes-won category, 5-4.
Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch prevailed over J. Paul Reddam’s Reddam Racing, Inc. in races won by a 6-5 margin.
Live racing returns to Santa Anita with day one of the track’s traditional Winter Meet on Dec. 26.