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January 27, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2011) – Game On Dude, idle since finishing fourth to Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes last June, returned to action at Santa Anita Thursday with a sparkling victory as trainer Bob Baffert continued what seems to be a daily relationship with the winner’s circle.

Guided by Rafael Bejarano, Game On Dude captured the seventh race, a $60,154 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles, by 1 ¼ lengths over When We Met in 1:40.77 to give Baffert and Bejarano a sweep of the day’s co-features.

January 23, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 23, 2011) – With multiple Grade I winners The Usual Q. T. and Evening Jewel, New York City-born trainer James Cassidy figures to be a force Saturday in Santa Anita’s portion of the 9th Sunshine Millions competition conducted in concert with Gulfstream Park.

In the bicoastal event offering purses of $1.8 million and comprised of six races exclusively for California and Florida-bred Thoroughbreds, The Usual Q.T. will be the leading challenger to Floridian multi-millionaire Presious Passion among eight entrants in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf. Evening Jewel heads a cast of nine in the $300,000 Distaff. The $200,000 Sprint, featuring Cost of Freedom, completes the Sunshine Million races at Santa Anita.

They will be interspersed among the three stakes taking place at Florida’s Gulfstream Park, with the afternoon’s headliner being the $500,000 Classic. Gulfstream will also present the $300,000 Filly & Mare Turf and the $200,000 Filly & Mare Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 23, 2011)—A creditable fifth in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26, It Tiz switched to the turf and stretched out a furlong in Sunday’s $79,150 Megahertz Stakes and responded with a determined stretch run, winning by one half length and getting the mile on turf in 1:34.83 with David Flores aboard.

January 22, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2011) – At 2-5, the shortest odds in a splendid career sprinting, Smiling Tiger suffered his harshest setback Saturday when leading trainer Bob Baffert’s Euroears ran away with Santa Anita’s 59th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at odds of 9-1.

With Mike Smith in the saddle, Euroears gained command in the first quarter of the six-furlong event and was never threatened while timed in a fleet 1:07.23. Smiling Tiger settled for third, 2 ¼ lengths behind runner-up Captain Cherokee and 4 ½ behind the winner.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2011)—Longshots were the order of the day Saturday, and with Smiling Tiger failing in a high profile way at odds of 2-5 in the featured Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes, it came as no surprise that no one hit the Pick Six, resulting in a carryover into Sunday of $104,449.

January 21, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2011) – Reba Is Tops, a 7-year-old stakes caliber mare who was running for a $62,500 claiming tag, emerged victorious when bet down to 3-5 favoritism Friday in Santa Anita’s $59,800 optional claiming feature for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

But it wasn’t quite that easy for the hard-hitting Washington-bred who was coming off a solid third in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes just three weeks before.

After drawing off to over a one-length lead on pacesetter Linda Lou in midstretch, Reba Is Tops stubbornly withstood a late resurge by the comebacker to win by a nose.

January 20, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2011) – Leading trainer Bob Baffert gained his 18th victory on the Santa Anita meet’s 17th day Thursday when his “other” entrant, Salty Sarah, captured the $70,020 Guadalajara Purse for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2011)—Santa Anita Park will honor recently retired newspaper handicapper Jerry Antonucci by naming Saturday’s fifth race “The Jerry Antonucci Purse.” The race is for older horses who are entered for a $12,500 claiming tag at one mile, and offers a purse of $16,000.

Antonucci, 64, is well known to Southern California racing fans, as he handicapped races and covered racing for 37 years, first with the defunct L.A. Herald Examiner in 1973.

January 17, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2011) – Bourbon Bay, unbeatable in four turf marathons including three Grade II fixtures at Santa Anita last season, avenged a subsequent Hollywood Park setback at the hands of rising star Champ Pegasus Monday when returning “home” to dispatch his better fancied nemesis by 1 ¾ lengths in Santa Anita’s 59th running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Marcos Handicap.

With regular rider Rafael Bejarano at the controls, 5-2 second choice Bourbon Bay overtook 8-5 Champ Pegasus and jockey Joel Rosario in midstretch. Champ Pegasus tried to fight back, but the outcome had become all but decided. Bourbon Bay, thus maintained his perfection over the Santa Anita grass as the winning skein reached five races that now included four Grade II competitions.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2011)—Santa Anita Park has announced that its natural dirt main track will be amended on Tuesday. Sand will be added in order to correct an apparent imbalance of silt and clay, which is believed to have been caused by recent heavy rains.

“The racetrack may have changed during periods of heavy rain, and we want to get it right back to where we started,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “The jockeys continue to be very happy with the track and it has remained safe. We know it’s playing too fast and we’re going to address that, gradually.”