ARCADIA, Calif. (April 21, 2013)—Santa Anita Park, which will again host the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 & 2, concluded its 76thwinter/spring meeting on Sunday with overall handle up four percent. The increase was fueled, in part, by strong gains in Account Deposit Wagering (ADW) handle through its 71-day meet which began on Dec. 26.
Santa Anita Derby Day, April 6, proved to be the high-point of the meet, as an on-track crowd of 33,005 wagered $4,047,710, which contributed to a total pari-mutuel handle of $19,897,306—a $2- million increase over last year.
Trainer Doug O’Neill won his second consecutive Santa Anita Derby, as Goldencents romped home by 1 ¼ lengths. Owned by NCAA Champion basketball coach Rick Pitino, Glenn Sorgenstein, Josh Kaplan and Dave Kenney, and ridden by Kevin Krigger, Goldencents will attempt to follow in the steps of the O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another and become the 10th horse to win both the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert finished the meet with 38 wins to take his third consecutive Santa Anita training title and record 11th overall. Baffert began the meet with two wins on opening day and continued to build on the momentum as he prevailed in a close contest over fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who finished second with 35 wins and O’Neill, who ended up third with 34.
Baffert’s biggest win came in the 76th running of the Santa Anita Handicap when favored Game On Dude, who was also named Horse of the Meeting, romped by a record 7 ¾ lengths to become just the fourth horse to ever win the Big ’Cap twice– this time under jockey Mike Smith for Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernard Schiappa.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano returned to the top of the riding standings to win his fourth title as Santa Anita’s leading rider with 93, 31 more than second-place finisher Edwin Maldonado. Bejarano had finished second in the riding standings the previous two seasons.
For the second consecutive year, Kosta Hronis’ Hronis Racing led all owners with by races won, with 11 victories.
This Santa Anita season was also marked by several very successful on-track activities designed to broaden the track’s reputation and brand as not only the crown jewel of Thoroughbred racing, but as an important member of the Southern California entertainment community.
More than 50 young women competed to be among the finalists to represent California in the first-ever Ms. Racing Queen pageant held at Gulfstream Park in Fort Lauderdale. Tatiana Schoeppler, who resides in Los Angeles, was named Ms. Racing Queen and she won the top prize of $100,000. She will spend the next 12 months as an ambassador for Thoroughbred racing around the country.
The 2nd Annual HRTV Film Festival at Santa Anita brought together nearly three dozen veteran and aspiring filmmakers to create 5-minute documentaries themed “A Day at the Races.” Kramer Productions’ film “One,” which chronicled sports anchor Jim Rome’s star filly Mizdirection, won the $10,000 first prize. Miguel Mochess and Cuatro Mascaras Productions’ film “And Away They Go” won the $10,000 Fan Favorite award.
Santa Anita will be open for simulcast wagering during the upcoming Betfair Hollywood Park Meeting, which gets underway on Thursday, with first post time at 1 p.m.
Opening day for Santa Anita’s 2013 Autumn Meet is Sept 27. For more information on the Autumn Meet and/or the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 & 2, visit www.santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.