Santa Anita Opens With A Bang

The fall meeting at Santa Anita kicks off on Friday, September, 27, and the action is sensational over the opening weekend. Five Grade 1 races have been carded, with the $250,000 Awesome Again S. (G1) the main local prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Formerly called the Goodwood S. (G1), a fine field of handicap runners will line-up to try and upend the mighty Game on Dude, who romped in this race a year ago and comes off arguably his best performance, airing in the Pacific Classic (G1) last time in a record margin. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Awesome Again has trained fine in advance of this and looms large with something close to his best, if he runs as his connections are on the fence.

Mucho Macho Man, who was second in the Classic here in 2012, will run and have a local prep this time around for conditioner Kathy Rivto. The talented son of Macho Uno has been a bit uneven this year but his last was very good when third in the Whitney (G1), and we know he loves this main oval. Argentine import Di Giorgio comes off a dominant Group 1 win and could be any kind in his U. S. debut for trainer Ron McAnally. Pacific Classic fifth Holding Glory, San Diego H. (G2) second Kettle Corn, Grade 1 star Paynter and multiple Grade 1 winner Richard’s Kid, look to be the major factors behind the horse to beat.

A strong field of fillies and mares will go postward in the well-matched $250,000 Zenyatta S. (G1). Juvenile champion Beholder has been fine this season with a stellar 5-3-2-0 mark against some fine competition, and the speedy daughter of Henny Hughes will hope to break through in her first with elders. The Richard Mandella earned a win on this oval in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) and could be the one to catch.

East Coast import Authenticity, second in the Personal Ensign S. (G1) most recently, has run first and second in five straight graded runs with some of the best on the East Coast and rates an obvious chance for trainer Todd Pletcher. Three-time stakes winner Flashy American will also ship in for this for trainer Kenny McPeek, and this should be a nice class test for this filly to give her connections a barometer of how she can run with this type. Multiple Grade 1 heroine Include Me Out, Santa Margarita S. (G1) queen Joyful Victory, recent Clement L Hirsch (G1) victress Lady of Fifty and three-time Grade 1 second More Chocolate, look like the top contenders in the field.

In the grassy, 10-furlong, $250,000 Rodeo Drive S. (G1) for fillies and mares on the lawn, a huge field is assembling. Marketing Mix, who was a bit subpar when fourth in the Beverly D. S. (G1) last season, ships back out west for Tom Proctor and she has been sharp out here. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was a fine second in the Filly and Mare Turf (G1) on this turf in 2012 and looms a big chance with close to her best.

Tiz Flirtatious is due for a Grade 1 win with her class and consistency, and the Marty Jones pupil wouldn’t be a surprise in here. The Cal-bred was an easy winner of the John C Mabee H. (G2) last time and is no stranger to this turf course. Grade 1 heroines Byrama and b, recent allowance winner and rapidly improving Topic, Waya S. third Mystical Star and Starstruck, who bagged a Grade 3 race at Monmouth last time, add to the depth of this field.

The juveniles will also get their chance at glory in the $250,000 Frontrunner S. (G1) for the boys and the $250,000 Chandelier S. (G1) for two-year-old fillies. In the former, fine maiden winner New Year’s Day, Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Tamarando, Graduation S. winner California Chrome and Futurity second Dance with Fate, are among the top players in this tricky race.

In the Chandelier, superb maiden winners Antiquity and Spring Moon will join the top three finishers of the Del Mar Debutante (G1); She’s A Tiger, Fascinating and Concave, in what is shaping up to be a fine betting event.
The Sunday feature is the $150,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2), while opening day will feature turf sprinters in the $100,000 Eddie D S. (G3).