By Margaret Ransom
Santa Anita’s autumn racing season finally gets underway Friday (Sept. 25), a week later than originally scheduled due to the Bobcat Fire – the largest in Los Angeles County history – which created poor air quality and unsafe breathing conditions for humans and horses.
For days since the gates opened following the Del Mar meet, Santa Anita was either closed for training, or training hours were cut short to protect the animals and people stabled at the track.
Though the fire still rages, the smoke has pushed away from the Arcadia area and racing will go on. The opening-day card offers 10 races, several with full fields. The autumn season will be run over 16 days through Oct. 25 on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule, with racing on Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 12). First-race post time is 2:30 p.m. PT.
The $200,000 Eddie D Stakes (G2) – named for Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye — for 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on turf; and the $100,000 Chillingworth Stakes (G3) – named for longtime Oak Tree Racing Association official Sherwood Chillingworth – for fillies and mares 3 and up at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track, are co-featured on Friday.
Seven will head postward in the Chillingworth, which is the day’s sixth race, and the same number of runners were entered for the Eddie D, which has been carded as the seventh.
On Saturday, seven stakes will share the spotlight with five of them being Breeders’ Cup qualifying “Win & You’re In” events — the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) for 3-year-olds and up (Classic); the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares (Filly & Mare Turf); $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds (Juvenile); $200,000 Chandelier Stakes (G1) for 2-year-old fillies (Juvenile Fillies); and the $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes for 2-year-olds (Juvenile Turf Sprint).
The $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) and the $75,000 Unzip Me Stakes complete the stakes action on the Saturday card.
On Sunday, two additional Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races will be featured – the $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares (Distaff) and the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), for 3-year-olds and up (Sprint). Also set to be contested Sunday but with no Breeders’ Cup implications will be the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup (G3).
This year the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7.In addition to the standard wagering menu, including win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, daily doubles, rolling daily double, rolling pick 3, pick 4, pick 5 and pick 6, this season the track will offer the Golden Hour Late Pick 4.
The wager, which is a $1 minimum and carries a low takeout of 15%, will be comprised of the last two races at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate each racing day and will complement the successful “Golden Hour Late Double,” which was instituted by the two tracks this past winter. The “Golden Hour Late Pick 4” will begin with Santa Anita’s second-to-last race, then Golden Gate’s, then Santa Anita’s finale with the curtain-closer and Golden Gate completing the wager.