- MIDNIGHT STORM COULD FACE ARROGATE
- LUNAR EXPRESS STEPS UP IN GRADE I LA BREA
- WALL CALENDAR AND MORE ON OPENING DAY
- POPULAR SHOWVIVOR TO RETURN ON DEC. 26
- CALIFORNIA CHROME SET TO GO TOMORROW
- SONGBIRD DUE AT SANTA ANITA NEXT MONTH
VERSATILE MIDNIGHT STORM SET FOR SAN PASQUAL
Trainer Phil D’Amato has versatile multiple graded stakes winner Midnight Storm set to run in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1 and a possible meeting with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and California Chrome conqueror Arrogate.
Midnight Storm, winner of the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on turf at Santa Anita last June 4, captured the Native Diver Stakes on dirt at Del Mar Nov. 27 in typical front-running fashion, winning off by nearly eight lengths.
“His race at Del Mar was pretty impressive and he’s always trained really good on the dirt here at Santa Anita,” D’Amato said. “He broke his maiden on the dirt here and he came out of the Native Diver in great shape.”
As to the possibility of facing Arrogate, D’Amato said, “I think we’ve got nothing to lose. If we beat Arrogate, hey, that’s a major feather in our cap. If you lose, you lost to Arrogate, so to me it’s a good opportunity.
“My horse is doing really well and the San Pasqual is where we’re going to go.”
LUNAR EXPRESS MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN LA BREA
Richard Baltas, who has become a trainer to be reckoned with in recent years, hopes to catch lightning in a bottle when he runs Lunar Express in the Grade I La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on opening day.
Lunar Express, a daughter of Malibu Moon, won at a mile on Del Mar’s main track Nov. 12, but not against the quality of rivals she may meet in the La Brea.
“She won going a mile and going 6 ½ (furlongs),” Baltas said. “She’s never run against stakes company but she beat older horses last time going a mile on dirt, so I figured this is a perfect distance for her.
“We’ll give it a shot.”
SANTA ANITA OFFERS POPULAR WALL CALENDAR AND MUCH MORE OPENING DAY
In addition to four graded stakes, Santa Anita will treat fans to its popular 2017 wall calendar, a $1 million guaranteed Late Pick 4 and much more with the beginning of its traditional Winter Meet on Monday, Dec. 26. A fan favorite for decades, the Santa Anita 2017 wall calendar will be given free of charge to all attendees with paid admission. With a pair of Grade I stakes, the Malibu and the La Brea showcased, Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opener will again command center stage among racing fans nationwide.
Mathis Brothers Furniture, for whom the opening day Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile is named, will provide a plush Thoroughbred toy to the first 5,000 kids 12 and under, as well as Mathis Brothers Gift certificates to all paid attendees. Santa Anita will also provide a Family Fun Zone in its spacious Infield Area. (General Admission and parking are free in the Infield, via Gate 6 off of Colorado Place).
Santa Anita’s luxurious Chandelier Room will again play host to the highly acclaimed Guest Chef Series as one of LA’s hottest restaurants will provide contemporary cuisine and post-holiday celebration. Ticketing, available online, includes innovative signature dishes throughout the afternoon, six delicious whiskey tastings, live music, a racing program, a wagering tip sheet and more. To purchase tickets, please visit santaanita.com/events.
With first post time set at 12 noon, admission gates will open at 10 a.m.
Here’s a schedule of opening day events:
–Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
–Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs
–Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) for 3-year-olds
–Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, at 6 ½ furlongs down hillside turf
–Free 2017 Santa Anita Wall Calendar
–Free Mathis Brothers plush Thoroughbred toy to first 5,000 kids 12 and under
–A Mathis Brothers Gift Certificate, free with paid admission
–Craft Beer and Cider Festival on Grandstand Apron (packages available at santaanita.com/events)
–Guest Chef Series in the Chandelier Room featuring a catered menu from one of LA’s hottest restaurants, delicious whiskey tastings, live music and more, visit santaanita.com/events for details
–Infield Family Fun Zone featuring pony rides and much more, visit santaanita.com/events
–Bud Light Lounge, all you can eat buffet, first beer included, racing program and more, visit santaanita.com/events
Entries for opening day races will be taken Wednesday, Dec. 21. For more racing and event information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA’S POPULAR ‘SHOWVIVOR’ RETURNS OPENING DAY
Santa Anita’s popular free online “Showvivor” will again be available to fans via santaanita.com/showvivor beginning opening day. The contest offers $5,000 in prize money, highlighted by a $2,500 top prize to be awarded to the longest “show streak” over the course of Santa Anita’s Winter Meeting, which concludes April 9.
Showvivor participants are required to select one horse from one race per racing day, and that horse must run no worse than third in order for the player to “Showvive.” If the player’s selection fails to finish 1-2-3, that individual is not totally eliminated, as he or she may begin a new streak the next racing day. The player with the longest “show streak” on April 9 will be declared top prize winner of $2,500. A second “Showvivor” contest will begin Friday, April 14.
The longest “show streak” is one of just five separate ways to win beginning Dec. 26:
SHOW STREAK: The player who has the longest “show” or no-worse than third-place finish streak at the end of the Spring Meet will win the grand prize of $2,500. Players should note that if they fail to make an online selection on a given day, their streak is still alive but they will not receive credit for days missed.
WIN STREAK: This carries a $1,000 prize and is intended to reward players who have selected the most consecutive first-place finishers. If a player fails to make a selection on a given day, his or her streak may continue, but the player will not receive credit for any days missed.
TOTAL WINS: At the end of the Spring Meeting, the player with most total wins will receive a $500 prize.
TOTAL PLACES: This also carries a prize of $500 and rewards the player who selects most total places or second-place finishes.
LARGEST SINGLE WIN PAYOUT: At the end of the Spring Meet, the player who has selected the highest single day win payout will be paid $500.
Players are encouraged to sign up as early as possible at santaanita.com/showvivor, although registration will be available after Dec. 26. Daily online selections must be made no later than 10 minutes until first race post time.
For additional details, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: Despite steady rain that began Thursday afternoon and continued into late Friday morning necessitating the closing of the main track for training at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos, where California Chrome is entered in Saturday’s Winter Challenge, trainer Art Sherman expects the 2014 Horse of the Year to run in the race he hopes will lead to the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28 and a possible rematch with Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate. “The horse is ready to go,” said Sherman, who had expressed concern about running the “People’s Horse” on a sealed or off track in a prep for the California-bred’s final race. “The weather’s supposed to clear up soon and the people at Los Al have guaranteed me that by race time tomorrow the track will be fast.” Added Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak: “The track was sealed last night and it always bounces back pretty quick.” . . . Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward reports that super filly Songbird will return from a six-week hiatus at WinStar Farm in Kentucky to Santa Anita the first week in January to prepare for her four-year-old campaign . . . From Gulfstream Park Publicity comes word that Awesome Banner, winner of the Hutcheson and Swale at Gulfstream, is ticketed for the Grade I Malibu on opening day. “Right now we plan to take a run there,” said Norm Casse, who trains the homebred for Jacks or Better Farm with his father, Mark. “He worked really well yesterday (five furlongs from the gate at Palm Meadows in a bullet 1:00.20, breezing). The Malibu is an opportunity for him to run against straight three-year-olds one more time.” . . . Agent Derek Lawson said Flavien Prat will be ready to ride opening day after recovering from blood in his kidneys following a mishap at Del Mar Nov. 27 . . . J.R. Pegram has Kent Desormeaux booked on Isothern for trainer George Weaver in the Mathis Brothers Mile on turf opening day.