Santa Anita’s six week fall meet came to a close on Sunday with one of their more successful fall meets in quite some time, as field size was very good for the entire meet. And though they didn’t have any stakes races the final weekend, there were still plenty of challenging races to wager on. The pick six paid out on Sunday and 733 patrons got it right to the tune of $3515 for the 20 cent wager. 38 year old Ramon Vasquez won the riding title with 25 victories, five more than runner up Juan Hernandez, who missed both Friday and Saturday this past week while riding at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup races. Trainer Peter Miller won his 4th Autumn training title at Santa Anita and sixth overall. Racing will return to this track on December 26 for their long six month meet. On this circuit, Del Mar will host their four week fall meet opening this Friday, November 11.
STAKES RECAP: Although there were no stakes racing at Santa Anita this past week, there was plenty of top class racing at Keeneland with the 39th running of the Breeders’ Cup and this involved plenty of Southern California horses, trainers, and riders. And even with inflation soaring and totally out of control, and the stock market falling at a rapid pace, the wagering public still has money for horse racing when a good product is presented to them. All sources handle at Keeneland on Friday set a new record of $66,141,766 eclipsing the previous mark of $61,696,893 set at Del Mar last year, and then on Saturday, they wagered $122,908,409 bringing the two day total to $189,060,373, a record overall by 3.4% versus last year. Of course a year ago the stock market was trading at an all time high and there was zero talk of inflation. Flightline was all the rage at the Breeders’ Cup and rightfully so, as he proved once again his recent five race win streak and being undefeated was no fluke. Facing his stiffest test by far in this year’s Classic, he chased a very fast pace for a mile and a quarter race, eased up to the top miler in the country at the quarter pole, Life Is Good, and rolled on by him with very little effort. He won off by 8 open lengths with Flavien Prat looking over his shoulder in the stretch for competition, and there simply wasn’t any. True, he has only raced six times, but his six victories have been by a total of 71 lengths, and he has dominated every field that was presented to him. Is he one of the all time greats like Secretariat and Spectacular Bid? Absolutely!! Unfortunately, the decision was made quickly Sunday morning to retire him and point him to the breeding shed for the 2023 season. Flightline paid $2.80 to win and received a 121 Beyer figure for the race. He retires with earnings of $4.5 million from just six races and though it would be terrific to see him race as a five year old, it’s strictly a business decision by the owners, and even though we don’t like it, we have to respect it.
Del Mar is the #1 race track on the west coast for thoroughbred racing, and not only do they have the top quality and quantity in their every day programs, they are by far the safest race track in the country as well. They open their four week fall meet this Friday, Nov. 11, and not only do they have an abundance of stakes races, two top eastern riders have stated they will ride here for the full meet. Flightline’s regular pilot Flavien Prat is returning to Southern California along with the popular Johnny V., who is affectionately called by racing fans for agent Ron Anderson. Top trainer Bob Baffert has requested John Velasquez to ride here and the two of them win together at about a 44% clip. Both riders will stay here and ride the winter meet at Santa Anita as well. Velasquez is the all time money earner for jockeys at $458.8 million. Prat finished second in the jockey standings this past summer at Saratoga and has won countless riding titles in the Southland. Eastern trainer Graham Motion will be sending a string of grass horses to Del Mar for the fall meet taking advantage of the good weather.
Del Mar opens with an 8 race card on Friday along with the Let It Ride stakes for three year olds. Of the 15 stakes races they have lined up for the meet, 10 of them will be on the turf and the best of those will come over the Thanksgiving weekend cards of November 24-27 where they will have a four day race week. The two richest races will be for $400,000 and will be the 9 furlong Hollywood Derby on the grass for sophomores and the Matriarch stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile on the turf. Both races are Grade Ones and will attract top notch fields. The Turf Festival will be spread out over the final two weeks of the meet which ends on Sunday, December 4. There are two Grade 2 races, each worth $250,000, and both will be run over Thanksgiving weekend, the Hollywood Turf Cup at a mile and a half on Nov. 25 and the Seabiscuit Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on Nov. 26. The meet is only four weeks long but for high quality racing, you don’t want to miss it.