SANTA ANITA OPENS
The action in Southern California shifts to Santa Anita on Monday, to kick off their meet that runs through April 22. More than 35 graded races are slated for this fine meet in Arcadia, California. Among the biggest races on the calendar includes the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 7; $750,000 Santa Anita H. (G1), $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and the $250,000 Las Virgenes S. (G1) on March 3; the $300,000 Santa Monica S. (G1) on January 28 and the $300,000 La Brea S. (G1) on December 31.
Four stakes races will be held on opening day, led by the $300,000 Malibu S. (G1) for sophomores going seven panels on the main oval. Grade 1-placed stakes winner Wine Police, who was second in the Jimmy V. S. last time, ships in for trainer Steve Asmussen and looms large in this dash. The son of Speightstown has finished worse than third just once in his career and has gotten some time to acclimate on this main surface.
Ultimate Eagle has won four in a row since adding blinkers and could cut back and switch surfaces for this one for conditioner Michael Pender. The son of Mizzen Mast bagged the Hollywood Derby (G1) last time and will be a major player if he proves a liking for this dirt oval. Grade 1 star The Factor stopped early in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) most recently, but has a ton of back class and is a Grade 2 winner at this locale. San Vicente S. (G2) runner-up Sway Away has a ton of ability and could be the one off the long break for conditioner Jeff Bonde.
Bob Baffert’s Smash always runs big and could be poised for a big 2012. His best could get the job done in this one with a step forward. The surging Rothko, European Grade 1 import Pathfork, Grade 1 winner Comma to the Top, a sharp allowance winner last time and Hoorayforhollywood, also should have a big say in the outcome of this well-matched field.
The $150,000 Sir Beaufort S. (G2) is on the lawn for sophomores and is likely for Hollywood Derby (G1) fifth Venomous, Lone Star Derby hero Thirtyfirststreet, multiple Grade 2 star Prayer for Relief, Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) fifth Mr. Commons and the stakes winning Irish Art.
Also on Saturday are two versions of the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion S., one each for the boys and the ladies