D’Amato, Bejarano Earn Honors as Top Trainer and Jockey
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 10, 2016) – Undefeated champion two-year-old filly of 2015 Songbird, who rolled to her seventh consecutive victory in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 9, was unanimously named Horse of the Meet in Santa Anita’s annual Winter Meet Media Poll.
The three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm earlier in the meet won the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes and the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes.
“We’re very grateful and we really appreciate it,” Hollendorfer said of the honor.
Songbird also outpolled Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator to be named Outstanding Three-Year-Old Filly and outstanding Three-Year-Old overall.
Phil D’Amato, in contention for training honors throughout the 63-day meet, finished with a flourish to overtake Doug O’Neill and capture the crown, his first ever, with 41 winners, seven more than O’Neill.
A 40-year-old resident of South Pasadena, D’Amato also led all trainers in stakes wins at the meet with eight. His horses earned $2,133,810, also best for the meet.
“It’s an honor, and I have to give a lot of the credit to my owners and my crew,” D’Amato said of his achievement. “Without the horses, I couldn’t do this. I have a great bunch of hard-working members of my staff, from my assistants down to my grooms.”
With 74 victories, Peruvian riding star Rafael Bejarano captured yet another Southern California riding crown, his 30th overall, his 26th in the Golden State and his 13th at Santa Anita, outdistancing Flavien Prat, who overtook injured Santiago Gonzalez late in the meet to finish second with 51 wins. Bejarano also led in purse earnings with $3,527,071.
Bejarano tied Gary Stevens for most stakes wins at the meet with eight.
Honored in other categories were Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin (Older Horse), who registered a 16-1 upset in the historic race under Joe Talamo for trainer David Hofmans and owner Tarabilla Farms; Kobe’s Back (Sprinter), who took down the Palos Verdes Stakes and the San Carlos Stakes, each a Grade II event, for the C R K Stable, trainer Peter Eurton and jockey Gary Stevens; Tara’s Tango (Older Filly/Mare), who captured the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes under Bejarano after taking the Grade II Santa Maria with Martin Garcia up for Stonestreet Stables, LLC and Hollendorfer.
Also, Paulina’s Love (Grass Filly/Mare), winner of the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes for KM Racing Enterprise, Inc. and Head of Plains Partners, trainer Richard Baltas and Stevens; David C. Lopez, (Apprentice), who won 26 races despite missing more than a month with injuries; Santa Anita Derby (in which Exaggerator pummeled his rivals with a 6 ¼-length victory, Race of the Meet); and D’Amato winning his first training crown, Achievement of the Meet.
The Hronis Brothers, Reddam Racing and Fox Hill Farms shared laurels as Owners of the Meet.
Guns Loaded, who won a $40,000 claiming race on Dec. 27, stepped up to win at the $62,500 level two races later on Feb. 20, followed by the $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes on Feb. 28, capped his run by winning the Grade III San Simeon Stakes on April 2 to be named Claiming Horse of the Meet.
Trained by O’Neill, the five-year-old D’wildcat gelding bred in Florida is owned by Westside Rentals.com, Neal Haymes, Leo Rodriguez and Steve Rothblum.
2016 Santa Anita Winter Media Poll
Horse of Meet: Songbird
Sprinter: Kobe’s Back
Older Horse: Melatonin
Older Filly/Mare: Tara’s Tango
Claimer: Guns Loaded
Grass Horse: What a View
Grass Filly/Mare: Paulina’s Love
3-Year-Old Filly: Songbird
Trainer: Phil D’Amato
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Apprentice: David C. Lopez
Race: Santa Anita Derby
Owner: Fox Hill Farm, Hronis, Reddam Racing
Achievement: D’Amato First Title