Santa Anita Stable Notes Sunday, February 26, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
SUNDAY, FEB. 26, 2023
• TRACKS REOPEN FOR LIGHT TRAINING AFTER HEAVY RAIN • D’AMATO BIDS FOR 1ST BIG CAP WITH TOP CONTENDER NEWGRANGE • MANDATORY PAYOUT OF RAINBOW 6 ON SATURDAY • JOCKEY UMBERTO RISPOLI HIRES NEW AGENT
TRACKS REOPEN FOR LIGHT TRAINING AFTER HEAVY RAIN
After being closed for training the past two days, both the main track and training track were open for light training on Sunday.
According to Santa Anita officials, a total of 6.5 inches of rain fell in Arcadia from Thursday through Saturday. The heavy winter storm also caused racing to be canceled this week.
On Sunday, horses were able to jog on both surfaces under partly cloudy skies with a spectacular backdrop of snow-laden San Gabriel Mountains which were blanketed with snow as low as 1,000 feet. There have been no timed workouts at Santa Anita since Thursday.
More rain is forecast for the first half of next week, but the amount projected is much lighter than the recent deluge that saturated the area. Jason Egan, Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary, said he expects both tracks to remain open for training with time workouts resuming on Tuesday.
Santa Anita should be full-steam ahead next week for three-straight days of racing beginning Friday. Entries are being taken Sunday for both Friday’s card and Saturday’s blockbuster program featuring four graded stakes: the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile, Grade II Buena Vista and Grade II San Felipe for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail.
As a result of this week’s cancellations, Santa Anita has added a card for Thursday, March 9. Furthermore, the plan next week is to run more overnight races than were originally scheduled.
D’AMATO BIDS FOR 1ST BIG CAP WIN WITH TOP CONTENDER NEWGRANGE
As a Southern California native and lifelong horse racing fan, trainer Phil D’Amato is well-versed in the history of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap presented by Yaamava Resort & Casino. On Saturday, he gets a chance to etch his own name in the record book when he saddles top contender Newgrange in the 86th running of the 1 ¼ Big Cap.
“It would be great,” D’Amato said of winning a Santa Anita Handicap. “This is a race I’ve always watched over the years. To compete in it with a horse I think has a legitimate chance makes it all the better.”
A former assistant to the late Mike Mitchell, D’Amato went out on his own in 2014 and has proceeded to build one of the most powerful stables in Southern California. With a heavy focus on turf horses, D’Amato’s only previous starter in the Big Cap came in 2017 when Midnight Storm finished second to Shaman Ghost.
Newgrange figures among the leading contenders for Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap. The 4-year-old Violence colt prepped for the Big Cap with a one-length victory in the Grade II San Pasqual here on Jan. 28. He is a perfect 3-for-3 at Santa Anita.
Newgrange had his final tune-up for the Big Cap on Thursday when working four furlongs in 49.00 seconds. The drill, which came just four days after Newgrange worked six furlongs in 1:13.10, was moved up to stay ahead of a severe winter storm forced training to be canceled on both Friday and Saturday.
“It was a nice easy drill before the rain,” said D’Amato, a 46-year-old native of San Pedro, Calif. “As for the weather, I look at it this way: it’s affecting us all the same way. We’re all in the same situation.”
In the Big Cap, Newgrange will be ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori. Juan Hernandez, who was aboard in the San Pasqual, has opted to ride Defunded in the Big Cap for Bob Baffert.
Newgrange is owned by David Bernsen, Little Red Feather Racing and Rockingham Ranch. Winner of two graded stakes as a 3-year-old, Newgrange has a record of 5-0-2 in eight starts with earnings of $747,334.
Finish Lines: There is a mandatory payout this Saturday in the 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot. Entering Friday’s card there is a Jackpot carryover of $214,355.59… Santa Anita has also announced that Admission Passes and Mystery Mutuel Vouchers, originally redeemable on Feb. 25 & 26, will be good Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 3, 4 & 5…Also on Saturday, Thoroughbreds members in attendance will receive A FREE SANTA ANITA PARK CAP….Jockey Umberto Rispoli has hired Matt Nakatani as his new agent… Every Friday during the Classic Meet on-track patrons will receive free admission, free parking and drink specials that include $3 beers and $5 margaritas…Del Mar was named the host site for the 2024 Breeders’ Cup this past Thursday.