TOP TRAINERS SET TO COMPETE AT 78TH SANTA ANITA WINTER MEET, BEGINNING FRIDAY, DEC. 26; HALL OF FAMERS BAFFERT & HOLLENDORFER, ALONG WITH MILLER, O’NEILL, SADLER & PROCTOR FIGURE PROMINENTLY

 

HALL OF FAMERS MCANALLY & MANDELLA ALSO HOPE TO CAMPAIGN SUCCESSFULLY

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 17, 2014)–With more than $30 million in purse money up for grabs, it’s no wonder a deep and competitive group of some of America’s top trainers have lined up to compete at Santa Anita’s upcoming Winter Meet, which begins Friday, Dec. 26, and will conclude April 19.

Led by perennial kingpins, Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer, John Sadler, Doug O’Neill, Peter Miller and Tom Proctor, fans can expect great racing and keen competition beginning opening day, which will be highlighted by the Grade I Malibu and La Brea Stakes, and the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile (turf).

Hollendorfer and Sadler, who dead-heated atop the 2013-14 standings with 34 wins, finished one win clear of Baffert, who checked in with 33. For Hollendorfer, it was his first major meet title in Southern California, while Sadler bagged his third Santa Anita Winter Meet crown.

Hollendorfer has announced that his stable star, Shared Belief, will make his next start in the opening day Malibu. America’s Eclipse Champion 2-year-old Male of 2013, the 3-year-old gelding by Candy Ride experienced his first-ever defeat in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1, and will try to bolster his standing among Eclipse Award voters with an end-of-the-year victory going seven furlongs. Fiercely competitive, Hollendorfer maintains large stables in Southern California and at Golden Gate Fields, located on the East San Francisco Bay.

Sadler, who topped Baffert and Hollendorfer in stakes-won by an 8-7-7 margin, has one of the most versatile stables on the west coast and is supported in large measure by top client Kosta Hronis. Known for his meticulous work ethic, Sadler’s horsemanship and organizational skills are second to none.

Baffert, who has won a record 11 Winter Meet training titles, is once again well stocked with a talent-laden stable, headed perhaps by 2-year-old Dortmund, who is unbeaten in two starts and is the current winter book favorite to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Arguably the most recognizable figure in American racing, Baffert took the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1 with top 3-year-old Bayern, who is expected to run at Santa Anita in the coming months.

The unflappable O’Neill, who won three consecutive Winter Meet titles in 2005, 06 and 07, returns from suspension and is expected to again field a large stable and be amply represented in all categories. A back-to-back winner of the Santa Anita Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Goldencents in 2013, O’Neill’s assistant, Leandro Mora, was the trainer of record for Goldencents’ final start–a thrilling victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Oct. 31.

Miller, who is currently based at San Luis Rey Downs, has proven a master tactician at the claim box and is known for his aggressive approach to the business. A former groom for the late Charlie Whittingham, Miller has attracted a broad base of owners that includes Academy Award winning producer Gary Barber and his brother, Cecil. A three-time leading trainer at Del Mar and at times reminiscent in style and demeanor of the late Bobby Frankel, Miller is refreshingly quotable and is expected to contend for leading trainer honors this winter.

With six stakes victories and 20 wins overall, Tom Proctor finished sixth in the 2013-14 Winter Meet standings and has decided to once again call Southern California home following a (full-time) hiatus of more than a decade. The son of legendary late trainer, Willard Proctor, Tom has assembled a well balanced stable that includes longtime client, Glen Hill Farm, which led all Winter Meet owners with 15 wins. Quick with a joke and blessed with a native Texan drawl, Proctor is known as an instinctive horsemen who uses veteran jockeys such as Mike Smith and Gary Stevens, and is also top apprentice Drayden Van Dyke’s biggest supporter.

Hall of Fame conditioners Ron McAnally and Richard Mandella, who rank fourth and seventh, respectively, on Santa Anita’s all time races-won list, will also hope to make their presence felt over the course of the winter. Mandella’s multiple Eclipse Award Champion Filly, Beholder, who was forced to miss a defense of her title in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff due to illness on Oct. 31, will return to training soon at Santa Anita and McAnally’s multiple graded stakes winning mare, Miss Serendipity, is currently ensconced in McAnally’s Barn 99 on the Santa Anita backstretch.

Special early first post time on Friday, Dec. 26, is at 12 noon. For more information, please visit santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.

 

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