DREAM TREE SEEKS TO STAY UNBEATEN IN LA BREA
KANTHAKA FAVORS DISTANCE OF GRADE I MALIBU
TEAM DESORMEAUX, SONNETEER IN SAN ANTONIO
HOLLENDORFER HAS TWO FOR MATHIS BROS. MILE
POPULAR WALL CALENDAR FREE ON OPENING DAY
BE COOL WITH A SANTA ANITA FIRST: ICE SKATING
DREAM TREE DRILLS TOMORROW FOR GRADE I LA BREA
Dream Tree attempts to run her unbeaten streak to six in the Grade I La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on opening day at Santa Anita this Wednesday, Dec. 26.
The bay daughter of UncleMo will be making her first start since Sept. 2, when she captured the Grade II Prioress at Saratoga by 4 ¼ lengths under Mike Smith, who rides back in the La Brea.
“I missed some time with her and was going to run her in the Breeders’ Cup, but she had a throat issue, an entrapped epiglottis,” said Bob Baffert, who has won the La Brea a record seven times. “But she’s doing well now and she’s going to work tomorrow, but it’s hard to get a gauge on your horses over this track.”
Dream Tree, owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, has been working steadily at Santa Anita since the Prioress, showing three bullet drills among her last six published works.
“I haven’t had too many Uncle Mos,” Baffert said, “but they’re all race horses, like Indian Charlies, although it’s hard to stay undefeated in California.”
Baffert’s previous La Brea wins were with Arches of Gold (1992), Magical Allure (1998), Hookedonthefeelin (1999), Pussycat Doll (2005), Downthedustyroad (2006), Indian Blessing (2008) and Book Review (2012).
Entries for the La Brea and the rest of the stakes-laden opening day card will be drawn tomorrow. There will be no live racing at Santa Anita on Thursday, Dec. 27.
First post time for the 10-race opening day card is 11:30 a.m.
KANTHAKA PERFECT SO FAR AT MALIBU DISTANCE
Kanthaka is unbeaten in three races at seven furlongs and Team Hollendorfer hopes the son of Jimmy Creed enhances that mark in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on opening day.
The chestnut colt has not raced since last May 12, posing conditioning reservations.
“It looks like we’ll get lucky and get another work into him,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward.
“There’s always a question with the weather when you’re coming off a layoff and everything, but so far he’s been able to get his works in and I think he’ll be ready.”
Each of Kanthaka’s seven furlong triumphs has come at Santa Anita, where he is unbeaten. He owns a maiden win, and victories in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes and the Grade III Laz Barrera Stakes.
SONNETEER RETURNS IN SAN ANTONIO STAKES
After an extended absence of more than seven months, Sonneteer returns to action in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on opening day.
The four-year-old Midnight Lute colt owned and bred by Calumet Farm, which led all breeders in North America this year with more than 300 victories, last raced May 5 at Churchill Downs, finishing second in an allowance race.
“He had a steady campaign from when he was a two-year-old up until May of this year; he never had a break,” pointed out trainer Keith Desormeaux, who fancies buying horses on the cheap, then elevating them to the top of the heap.
“We gave Sonneteer a little break, freshened him, he came back nicely and we’re looking forward to a big year.” The homebred already has earned $480,416.
Asked if Hall of Fame great Kent Desormeaux would ride, older brother Keith said, “Yes, if he recovers from his holiday turkey. If not, I’ll ride him myself.”
Kent is approaching a career milestone of 6,000 North America victories, currently standing at 5,993.
SHIVERMETIMBERS MAKES TURF DEBUT IN MATHIS BROS. MILE
Shivermetimbers, a consistent son of Shanghai Bobby, makes his turf debut in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile for three-year-olds on opening day. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Mark DeDomenico and West Point Thoroughbreds, Shivermetimbers will be joined in the race by stablemate Choo Choo.
Mike Smith rides Shivermetimbers, while Joel Rosario pilots Choo Choo, owned and bred by Calumet Farm.
“It’s the first race on grass for Shivermetimbers,” Hollendorfer said, “but he worked well over it at Del Mar (going five furlongs on a firm course Nov. 25 in a bullet 1:01.20).”
Choo Choo is a consistent son of English Channel who was a willing second in the Let It Ride at a mile on Del Mar’s turf course Nov. 10.
Santa Anita and Mathis Brothers Furniture, sponsors of the race, will give away $10,000 worth of scholarships in conjunction with the event. Four students will be randomly selected to each receive a $2,500 scholarship.
For details, please visit santaanita.com/college.
SPECTACULAR SANTA ANITA WALL CALENDAR FREE ON OPENING DAY
Racegoers will again be treated to one of the best gifts of the year as Santa Anita’s 82nd Winter Meet opener Dec. 26 will provide each attendee with a spectacular Santa Anita Wall Calendar, free with paid admission.
Themed “Santa Anita Triples,” the 2019 calendar will honor three Santa Anita-based Triple Crown Champions: Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018). Along with these three greats, each month will include a photo and brief description of past champions, dating back as far as the track’s founding in 1934, which have graced both the main track and turf course here at The Great Race Place.
Among those from the past who are shown in action at Santa Anita are four-time Eclipse Award winner and 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta; seven-time Eclipse winner and two-time Horse of the Year John Henry (1981 and 84), four-time Eclipse Award winner and three-time Zenyatta Stakes winner Beholder, nine-time Santa Anita stakes winner and three-time Santa Barbara Handicap winner Megahertz, four-time Eclipse winner and two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome (2014 and 16), seven-time Santa Anita stakes winner and three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude and others.
With many of 2018’s top horses winning three or more major stakes, and in some cases going on to taste victory in the Breeders’ Cup, they will be recognized with large photos atop their respective months, in keeping with the calendar’s theme.
Santa Anita will present five stakes on opening day, headed by a pair of Grade I events at seven furlongs, the Malibu and La Brea. The Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile and the Grade II San Antonio Stakes will round out the graded stakes action, with the Lady of Shamrock Stakes supplementing the stakes roster.
For additional information on Santa Anita’s opening day wall calendar and a variety of opening day promotions and events, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA FIRST: ICE SKATING AND WORLD CLASS RACING
For the first time ever, Santa Anita Park will offer fans of all ages Ice Skating in addition to world class racing on opening day of the Winter Meet, Dec. 26. Santa Anita’s authentic ice rink, presented by Ice America, which is currently part of its popular Winterfest celebration, will be available as a part of its Infield Family Fun Zone through Sunday, Jan. 6.
Fans are encouraged to come early opening day, as special first post time for a 10-race program is 11:30 a.m. Santa Anita’s Infield Family Fun Zone will open Dec. 26 at 10 a.m. and stay open until 4:30 p.m. In addition to the ice rink, pony rides, inflatable bouncers and face painting will be available in the Infield Family Fun Zone Dec. 26, 29 & 30 and Jan. 1, 5 & 6.
With free Infield General Parking and Admission available via Gate 6 off of Colorado Place, an Infield Family Fun Zone KID PACK, which includes an ice skating session, unlimited inflatable wristband, a pony ride and face painting, is available for $30. An ADULT PACK, which includes ice skating, a racing program and free 2019 Santa Anita Wall Calendar, is available for $16.
FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City of Light, prepping for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26, worked four furlongs in company Thursday for trainer Michael McCarthy in 47.40. Inside of workmate Irish Spirit, who was clocked in 48.20, City of Light pulled away to hit the wire some four lengths in front . . .The $75,000 Lady of Shamrock Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf opening day closed with an abundance of 27 nominations, so trainer Gary Stute is keeping his fingers crossed that his candidate, Stradella Road, gets into the race for her stakes debut. A daughter of Elusive Quality owned and bred by Bo Hirsch, Stradella Road is named for an upscale thoroughfare in Bel Air, where the likes of Harvey Korman and Jaclyn Smith have made their residences. “I want to go in the race if I get in,” Stute said . . . Jan. 26 will mark the 40th year at Santa Anita for Clockers’ Corner hostess with the mostess Rosie Ybarra. She has been engaging customers at the popular backstretch watering hole for 25 years, “and I love it,” she said . . . Programming Alert: Santa Anita will be well represented on the popular KTLA Morning News this coming Monday, Christmas Eve, as Executive Chef Paula Smagacz and newly appointed announcer Frank Mirahmadi will appear in-studio. The “dynamic duo” will have opening day fare, 2019 Wall Calendars, Mathis Brothers Furniture plush toys and hopefully, some opening day winners to share with the vast Channel 5 audience.