- ENOLA GRAY IS OUT TO MAKE AMENDS IN LA BREA
- BETTYS BAMBINO RETURNS AFTER LONG ABSENCE
- WALL CALENDAR PLUS MUCH MORE OPENING DAY
- WAGERING MENU HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
- ‘REAL HORSE RACING’ ON DISPLAY AT SANTA ANITA
- BC WINNER FINEST CITY EYES JAN. 21 SANTA MONICA
ENOLA GRAY LANDS GOOD POST FOR SPEED-FILLED LA BREA
Phil D’Amato is optimistic that Enola Gray can make amends for her second-place finish as the 1-10 favorite in the Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 13 when she runs in the Grade I La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on opening day Monday.
“There is definitely a ton of speed (in the race) but I love my post position with her,” D’Amato said of Enola Gray, a gray California-bred daughter of Grazen owned and bred by Nick Alexander. “Mike’s just going to break and go on with her.”
“Mike” is Mike Smith, who rides Enola Gray for the first time in her career of seven starts, four of them victories and two of them seconds. Enola Gray drew post position seven in the field of eight three-year-old fillies.
“My filly’s just got a ton of stamina,” D’Amato added. “We’re going to let her roll and see what happens.”
Midnight Storm, a graded stakes winner on dirt and turf, remains on course for the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1 and a possible meeting with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate.
“We’re pointing for the San Pasqual,” D’Amato said. “Arrogate or no Arrogate, we’re running. We’re very excited about this meet. We’ve got a lot of nice horses, from two-year-olds to stakes horses and they all should be ready to go here at Santa Anita.”
The La Brea: Lunar Empress, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 20-1; Lightstream, Julien Leparoux, 2-1; Finley’sluckycharm, Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-2; Constellation, David Flores, 6-1; Coniah, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Chao Chum, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Enola Gray, Mike Smith, 9-2; and Perfect Pic, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1.
TWO YEARS LATER AND ‘THE BAMBINO’ IS BACK
Bettys Bambino is ready to make his first start in nearly two years when he runs in the Grade III San Simeon Stakes scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf opening day.
The 6-year-old Unusual Heat gelding last raced on Feb. 21, 2015, winning the Sensational Star Stakes, capping a four-race winning streak on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course.
“He had a minor suspensory issue and we turned him out six months,” trainer Peter Eurton said in explaining one of the reasons for the lengthy absence. “We had him ready to run and then he cracked his shoulder and we turned him back out again, four more months. Now he’s ready to go.
“Those injuries, six months, four months, it’s a whole year just sitting on the farm. Now he’ll be seven in May, if you really want to get technical, but he’s training well.”
The California-bred Bettys Bambino has five wins and one third from six starts down the hill and has been out of the money only once in 10 career starts, earning $318,036.
The San Simeon, race six of nine: Jimmy Bouncer, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; Hobbits Hero, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Stormy Liberal, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 8-1; Drummer, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Ohio, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Acceptance, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Cape Wolfe, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Richard’s Boy, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; He Will, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Tough Sunday, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1; Betty’s Bambino, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Holy Lute, Jamie Theriot, 9-2; Horse Laugh, 30-1; and Iron Rob, Corey Nakatani, 50-1.
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 and much more with the beginning of its traditional Winter Meet on Monday.
A fan favorite for decades, the Santa Anita 2017 wall calendar will be given free of charge to all attendees with paid admission.
The 2017 calendar is not only bucolic and picturesque, but contains information on Thoroughbreds so profound even a hard-core race tracker can learn something new.
Themed “Anatomy of a Champion,” the calendar contains a veterinarian’s glossary in layman’s terms.
In short, it’s a keeper!
First post time Monday is 12 noon; admission gates 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
For more racing and event information, visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA WAGERING MENU INCLUDES ENHANCED PICK SIX,
Santa Anita’s Winter Meet will offer fans a comprehensive pari-mutuel betting menu that will include an enhanced Pick Six with a Single Ticket Jackpot component. Seventy percent of the pool will continue to be paid out to those with six winners, and the same 70 percent will be carried over in the event there are no tickets with six winners.
Consolation tickets will now be paid with 15 percent of the remaining pool, while the remaining 15 percent will be allocated for a separate “jackpot,” which will be paid in the event of a single winning ticket. On a mandatory payout day, consolation payoffs will be made just as they ordinarily would on any other racing day.
Santa Anita will also continue to offer the nation’s lowest major track takeout of 15.43 percent on win, place and show wagers, as well as the popular 50 cent Players Pick Five, one dollar exactas, one dollar trifectas, two dollar rolling Daily Doubles, one dollar rolling Pick Threes, an early and late 50 cent Pick Four, a one dollar Super High Five and 10 cent Superfectas.
Santa Anita’s 2016-17 Winter Meet Wagering Menu will offer the following:
-$500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 each weekend (excluding Sun. Feb. 5)
-$300,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 each weekday
-$100,000 guaranteed Pick 6 each weekend
-The 50 cent Players Pick 5. Comprised of races one through five, the Pick Five features a low takeout of 14 percent. If no one correctly selects all five winners, 100 percent of the net pool is carried over to the next racing day.
-Two dollar Win, Place & Show wagering on each race, featuring the lowest takeout (15.43 percent) of any major racetrack in the nation.
-One dollar Trifectas on each race (minimum of four runners required).
-10 cent Superfectas will be offered on all races (minimum of six horses scheduled to start).
-One dollar Exactas are offered on each race.
-The newly enhanced two dollar Pick Six will be on the final six races each day.
-The 50 cent early Pick 4 will cover races two, three, four and five, each day. The Late Pick 4 will cover the final four races on each card.
-Rolling two dollar Daily Doubles, which feature a 20 percent takeout.
-One dollar rolling Pick Threes will start with the first race each day.
-One dollar Super High Five, which requires bettors to correctly select the first five finishers in each day’s final race (minimum of eight runners) will again be offered. If no one selects the top five horses in exact finish order, 100 percent of the net pool carries over to the next day.
For more information on Santa Anita’s Winter Meet, visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
‘IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER’ THAN SANTA ANITA
It’s another opening, another show as horsemen and handicappers alike look forward to Santa Anita’s Winter Meet and its traditional start the day after Christmas.
“This is when real horse racing starts,” said Los Angeles native Craig Lewis, who turns 70 next May 1 and has been training since 1981. “This is great horse racing. It doesn’t get any better than this.
“I’ve got a couple young horses and you’re always hopeful, but you never know how it’s going to turn out.”
Whether he gets another Larry The Legend or not remains to be seen. He was the unheralded colt that won the 1995 Santa Anita Derby. “I hope so,” Lewis said, “but it’s unlikely. They don’t come along like him too often.”
DRESS YOUR VERY BEST ON OPENING DAY MONDAY
Santa Anita will host a contest to discover how many of its loyal fans have true enthusiasm for prize-worthy, race-day attire. Males and females 18 and over are eligible and encouraged to partake in this FREE trackside event.
The Grand Prize winner will take home a $2,500 Gift Certificate to Mathis Brothers Furniture and gain entrance into the VIP seating area of the Craft Brew & Cider Trackside event. Nine runners-up will each receive a $250 Gift Certificate to Mathis Brothers Furniture.
FINISH LINES: Ian Kruljac, trainer of Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Finest City, said the Pennsylvania-bred filly could make her 2017 debut in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs on Jan. 21. A leading candidate for an Eclipse Award in the female sprint division, Finest City worked five furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 59.20, fastest of 48 drills at the distance. Kruljac called the move, “easy, fabulous.”. . . Players wishing to gain a seat in the 2017 National Handicapping Championship Challenge in Las Vegas Jan. 7 or get a head start in the 2018 event can buy in to Santa Anita’s Players Choice contest for $500, a $300 bankroll plus a $200 entry fee. The top five finishers in the Players Choice competition will have their choice of a 2017 or 2018 NHC Challenge entry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four Players Choice finishers as follows: $10,000, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. For further information, visit santaanita.com/contest . . . Debby Baltas, wife of trainer Richard Baltas, will be in charge of Santa Anita’s track kitchen on the backstretch starting Jan. 20. “She’s looking forward to it,” Richard said. “She loves helping people.” Debby drew rave reviews when she ran the track kitchen at defunct Hollywood Park. Her mother, Norma, owns the Fresh Gourmet Restaurant on Huntington Drive in San Marino, where Debby lends a helping hand . . . Santa Anita will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 27 and 28, and resume live racing Thursday, Dec. 29 at 12:30 p.m. . . . Richard Mandella, asked what adjustment he’s made now that three-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder has been retired: “I feel like the guy walking through a crowd that’s had his pocket picked–empty.”