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SANTA ANITA’S 75TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON CLOSES, ‘GREAT RACE PLACE’ WEATHERS STORM, FINISHES STRONG
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 18, 2010)—Santa Anita’s 75th anniversary meeting ended on a high note Sunday as a crowd of 17,345 attended on-track and witnessed an action-packed day of racing that included the 71st running of the prestigious San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap, which was won by Bourbon Bay ridden by Rafael Bejarno. The San Juan Capistrano was carded as the 10th and final race, resulting in a crescendo-like finish to a meet that endured economic and weather-related challenges.
“It was great to finish-up like we did today,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “The San Juan Capistrano was a great way for us to go out and despite the fact we faced a number of issues over the course of the meet, it went very quickly.”
Santa Anita continues to be America’s number-one winter racing venue in terms of all source handle, on-track handle and on-track attendance.
“We knew in December that we would be facing significant challenges,” added Charles. “The bad economy, especially here in California, is an obvious reason for some of the declines, but we also must acknowledge that the problems we continue to have with drainage on the main track and a reduced horse inventory definitely contributed as well.”
Santa Anita experienced periods of heavy rain in January and February and as a result, had to cancel five days of racing, including two Saturdays, one of which was Strub Stakes Day, Feb. 6.
“What hurt us just as much as the actual cancellations was the uncertainty as to whether or not we’d be able to run,” said Charles. “The main track performed very well overall. We had an extraordinarily safe meet and that is our number one priority.”
Santa Anita’s field-size was 8.2 horses per race last year and this meet it fell slightly to 7.9.
“We were pleased to be able to maintain our regular five-day week, with the exception of the weather-related cancellations, despite the fact we had fewer horses,” said Charles.
Overall daily average handle for the 78-day meeting declined 11 percent. On-track attendance was down six percent, while on-track daily handle dipped 15 percent. Southern California Off Track Wagering Incorporated (SCOTWINC) average daily handle was down eight percent. Out of state average daily handle was down 13 percent.
On the racetrack, there were many highlights, including the two appearances of the great race mare Zenyatta. She was paraded in front of a crowd of 35,292 on opening day. Then on March 13, the John Shirreffs trainee won the Gr. I Santa Margarita Handicap in dramatic fashion under Mike Smith.
The John Sadler-conditioned Sidney’s Candy dominated the 3-year-old stakes program, winning the Gr. II, seven furlong San Vicente on Feb. 15, the Gr. II, 1 1/16 miles San Felipe on March 13 and the Gr. I, 1 1/8 miles Santa Anita Derby on April 3. The Derby attracted an on-track crowd of 40,718, which was the third-largest crowd in North America this year to date.
The Gr. I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 was impacted by rain, but still attracted an on-track crowd of 23,829. The Big ’Cap was won by the Bob Baffert-trained Misremembered, who was ridden by Martin Garcia.
In the jockeys’ race, Peruvian native Bejarano took his third consecutive riding title at Santa Anita, outdistancing Joel Rosario by a 94-73 margin.
John Sadler won his second consecutive Santa Anita training title, winning 43 races, two clear of Baffert.
Ron Valenta’s La Canada Stables led all owners with 14 wins.
Live racing will resume at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, with opening day of the Oak Tree meeting. Santa Anita will be open for simulcasting in the interim, beginning with opening day at Hollywood park on Wednesday.
For more information on Santa Anita Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.SantaAnita.com