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March 27, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 27, 2010) – Trainer Mike Mitchell, who has enjoyed enormous success converting claimed horses into winners of graded stakes marathons, turned the feat once again on Saturday when 9-1 shot Tap It Light captured Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles before a festive on-track crowd of 12,796.

After tracking early leader Eagle Poise, jockey Tyler Baze sent Tap It Light to the lead rounding the far turn. They safely withstood the late bid of Rendezvous to score by three-quarters-of-a-length in 2:62. Eagle Poise faded to third, another half-length back, in the field of eight.

Tap It Light had won going 1 3/8 miles at Fairplex Park in Sept of 2008 after Mitchell claimed the gelded son of General Meeting at Del Mar one race previous for $40,000 on behalf of Scott Anastasi, Dan Capen and James Ukegawa.

March 26, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 26, 2010) – While providing leading trainer John Sadler with his third Santa Anita feature victory in as many days, Distorted Dave just may have run himself into the Kentucky Derby with a 4 ¼-length victory in Friday’s $48,400 allowance event for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

“We’re going to try to backdoor our way into the Derby by running in the Coolmore at Keeneland,” Sadler said afterward in reference to the Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 17.

Nominated to the Triple Crown races, 4-1 shot Distorted Dave gave evidence of his budding potential on Friday by overhauling the dueling favorites in midstretch and drawing off to win in 1:43.16.

March 25, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2010) – Irish-bred Minute Limit stormed home on the extreme outside under jockey Joel Rosario Thursday to defeat 3-2 favored Irish-bred Manhattan Beach by one length in Santa Anita’s $49,400 allowance feature for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

The result provided leading trainer John Sadler with his 33rd victory of the meet and a seven-win lead over Bob Baffert. It deprived Mike Mitchell, who trains Manhattan Beach, of his third winner of the afternoon.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2010)--Zenyatta’s emergence as a presence in the public spotlight, in addition to being perfection personified on the race track, did not happen overnight.

“That’s what I tell people,” John Shirreffs said of the undefeated 6-year-old mare who gave the trainer his fifth Santa Margarita Handicap victory March 13 with a scintillating last-to-first burst for her 15th straight win.

March 24, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010) – Four-year-old gelding Bolinas provided Santa Anita’s leading trainer John Sadler with his 32nd victory of the season Wednesday when scoring a wire-to-wire win under jockey Tyler Baze as the 13-10 favorite in the day’s $28,080 starter allowance feature at one mile on turf.

The result gave Sadler, who is seeking a second successive training title at the winter/spring meet, a six victory lead over Bob Baffert with 19 days remaining in the meet.

After racing somewhat erratically when challenged at the head of the stretch, Bolinas was straightened away by Baze to score by a comfortable length over fast-closing Devil On the Roof while covering the distance in 1:34.91.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010)—Dave Solan didn’t need a “syndicate” to hit Sunday’s Pick Six at Santa Anita. Known as “Dynamic Dave” to his FrontRunner Restaurant brethren, Solan, a 70-year-old retired sales consultant from Tarzana, hit the $2,731 Pick Six on a $2 ticket, the minimum required investment. For good measure, Solan hit it again by doubling his lay-down—with a $4 ticket, resulting in a bargain-basement payday of more that $5,400.

“I’ve been coming to Santa Anita for 40 years,” said Solan. “We celebrate everything here, birthdays, holidays, you name it.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010)—All fans attending the races on Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, April 3, will be eligible to enter a “DreamBet” sweepstakes sponsored by Churchill Downs, and thus have a chance to bet $10,000 to win on a horse of their choosing in the Gr. I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, to be telecast live on NBC.

Churchill Downs, site of the 136th running of the Gr.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010)—Two-time Academy Award winning actor Dustin Hoffman will soon be plying his trade at Santa Anita-a second career as a jockey is not in the cards, as he has instead been engaged to take on a lead role in the HBO pilot “Luck.” Hoffman will portray a paroled ex-con in the David Milch-produced pilot which is going to be directed by the internationally renowned Michael Mann.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010)—A group of Santa Anita-based jockeys will sign autographs and participate in a “meet and greet” gathering with special-needs youngsters provided by AbilityFirst, in Santa Anita’s famed Seabiscuit Walking Ring from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 1. The event is intended to raise public awareness of AbiltyFirst and to help promote Santa Anita’s Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on Saturday, April 3.

The Santa Anita Derby Day 5K is part of AbilityFirst’s Marathon Campaign, which is presented by Comerica Bank.

March 23, 2010

Lookin At Lucky, the West’s leading Kentucky Derby contender, is now listed as probable to stay home and run in the Gr. I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3. A much-troubled winner of the Gr. II, 1 1/16 miles Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 13, Lookin At Lucky, who returned to trainer Bob Baffert’s Santa Anita base on March 18, was originally thought to be pointing for the Gr. I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 10.

“It depends on how he’s training,” said Baffert on Saturday morning. “If he’s training really well here, it (running in the Santa Anita Derby) would give him an extra week for the (Kentucky) Derby (on May 1). If he needed the extra week (following the Rebel), I’ll go to Arkansas. If he doesn’t need the extra week, I’ll stay here.”

Baffert has won the Santa Anita Derby five times, with Cavonnier (1996), Indian Charlie (1998), General Challenge (1999), Horse of the Year Point Given (2001) and Pioneerof the Nile last year. He has won the Kentucky Derby three times, but not since 2002, when War Emblem and Victor Espinoza posted a front-running tally at 20-1.

Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Sidney’s Candy, Joe Talamo; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson; Lookin At Lucky, Garrett Gomez; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Thomas Baines, Joel Rosario; Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis; Posse Power, no rider; Skipshot, no rider; Cardiff Giant, Christian Santiago Reyes; and Who’s Up, Victor Espinoza.

To be run for the 73rd time on April 3, the Santa Anita Derby has produced 15 Kentucky Derby winners, including 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Last year’s winner, Pioneerof the Nile, would go on to a second-place finish to longshot Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby.