JOSE ORTIZ TO RIDE COPPER BULLET IN GRADE I MALIBU
BAFFERT SEEKS TO ADD TO HIS LA BREA VICTORY RECORD
BATTLE OF MIDWAY IS ON COURSE FOR THE SAN ANTONIO
DIRT MILE WINNER CITY OF LIGHT TO WORK FOR PEGASUS
POPULAR WALL CALENDAR AVAILABLE FREE OPENING DAY
FANS CAN BE COOL WITH SANTA ANITA FIRST: ICE SKATING
ASMUSSEN HAS COPPER BULLET PRIMED FOR MALIBU
Copper Bullet, a quick and hard-hitting son of More Than Ready trained by Steve Asmussen, seeks his third straight victory when he runs in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on opening day, Wednesday, Dec. 26.
The bay colt worked five furlongs at Santa Anita last Friday in a bullet 1:01. Jose Ortiz, who along with his brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., has dominated riding in North America this year, ranking second and first respectively in victories and purse earnings, pilots Copper Bullet.
“He’s a happy horse,” said Asmussen’s foreman, 31-year-old native of Mexico Alberto Bahena at Barn 15 where Copper Bullet is bedded down. “He has a lot of class.”
Bahena, who has been with Hall of Fame member and two-time Eclipse Award winner Asmussen for 13 years, was the groom of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin before advancing to foreman.
Copper Bullet has had one race this year, winning a seven furlong allowance test at Churchill Downs Nov. 23 by 3 ½ lengths. He has three wins and two seconds in five career starts, earning $277,000 for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing LLC.
Catch Copper Bullet’s last work on Dec. 14 here.
First post time for the 10-race opening day card is 11:30 a.m.
UNBEATEN DREAM TREE COULD ADD TO BAFFERT’S LA BREA MARK
Bob Baffert has won the Grade I La Brea Stakes a record seven times. The two-time Triple Crown winning trainer hopes to add to that mark when he sends out undefeated Dream Tree in the $300,000, seven furlong race on opening day.
Dream Tree, a bay daughter of Uncle Mo owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, broke her maiden at first asking in October of 2017, winning by a nose at Santa Anita, then reeled off four straight stakes wins: the Desi Arnaz, the Grade I Starlet, and the Las Virgenes and the Prioress, each a Grade II, the wins coming at four different tracks including Santa Anita twice.
Baffert’s previous La Brea victories were with Arches of Gold (1992), Magical Allure (1998), Hookedonthefeelin (1999), Pussycat Doll (2005), Downthedustyroad (2006), Indian Blessing (2008) and Book Review (2012).
Expected to face Dream Tree in the La Brea are Amuse, Cathedral Reader, Emboldened, Happy Like a Fool, Heavenhasmynikki, Hot Autumn, Kelly’s Humor and Spiced Perfection.
BATTLE OF MIDWAY SET FOR SAN ANTONIO STAKES
Battle of Midway, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner in a 14-1 upset, is on course for the Grade II San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/16 miles opening day for Team Hollendorfer.
“He hasn’t missed a beat (in his training),” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “He ran a good race last out (winning the Grade III Native Diver by a neck on Nov. 25). He had to go head and head all the way, so that should have him plenty fit.
“He’s worked well here at Santa Anita and he’s run well here, so he’s ready to go.”
CITY OF LIGHT, ACCELERATE COULD MEET AGAIN IN PEGASUS
City of Light, who handed Horse of the Year contender Accelerate his only loss this year with a neck victory in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap last April 14, is scheduled to work at Santa Anita tomorrow morning for a possible rematch in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
City of Light, trained with a deft hand by Michael McCarthy this season, would go on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in front-running fashion by 2 ¾ lengths on Nov. 3. McCarthy is looking forward to City of Light meeting Accelerate again.
“He’s on schedule for the Pegasus,” McCarthy said of the four-year-old son of Quality Road owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr. “I couldn’t be happier with the way he came out of the Breeders’ Cup.”
“He has already defeated Accelerate, who is in the running for Horse of the Year, so it’s exciting stuff. After tomorrow’s breeze, we’ll go from there and stay on a seven-day schedule.”
SPECTACULAR SANTA ANITA WALL CALENDAR FREE ON OPENING DAY
Racegoers will again be treated to one of the best gifts of the year, the day after Christmas, as Santa Anita’s 82nd Winter Meet opener on Wednesday, 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 track’s Winter Meet. 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, face painting and more will be available as part of the Infield Family Fun Zone Dec. 26, 29 & 30, as well as on Jan. 1, 5 & 6.
With free Infield GeneralPark 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 program and free Santa Anita Wall Calendar, is available for $16.
FINISH LINES: Clockers’ Corner was busy as a beehive Wednesday morning with opening day but a week away. Among the visitors was Mike Harlow, Director of Racing at Santa Anita from 1999 to 2012, whose wife, Shelley, is in charge of the private suites at The Great Race Place . . . Also on hand pressing the flesh in the hopes of drumming up business was Monty Roberts of Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, which offers full service training for young horses, rehabilitation and lay ups and many other equine aids. “I just got back from a 100-day trip to five countries–Germany, England, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary,” said the 83-year-old Roberts. “We need horses at our farm.” The facility has a recently resurfaced 5/8 mile training track and a 24-hour resident staff . . . Trainer Val Brinkerhoff worked more than 33 percent of his stable Wednesday, or nine of his 24 head, including Iron Curtain on the training track in a bullet 36 flat for three furlongs. Bob Baffert was also busy, breezing six, led by impressive juvenile debut winner Coliseum, who went six furlongs in a bullet 1:13.20 . . . Doug O’Neill sent Mathis Brothers Mile candidate and Trojan alum favorite Fight On five furlongs in 1:02.60. Santa Anita and Mathis Brothers Furniture, sponsors of the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile, 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, visit santaanita.com/college . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest from a fresh locale, the XBTV studios, will be the new voice of Santa Anita, Frank Mirahmadi, 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 26.
XBTV VIDEO WORKS: