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I’LL HAVE ANOTHER ‘HORSE OF MEET’ IN MEDIA POLL; BAFFERT, ROSARIO AGAIN EARN HONORS AS TOP TRAINER AND JOCKEY
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 22, 2012) – I’ll Have Another, who was dismissed as an “overnight sensation” when he won the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes in a 43-1 upset on Feb. 4 but subdued skeptics when he returned at 4-1 to nose out 4-5 favorite Creative Cause in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7, was named Horse of the Meet in Santa Anita’s 2011-12 Winter/Spring Media Poll.
“This is a huge honor,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains the 3-year-old son of Flower Alley for owner J. Paul Reddam, whose horses led in earnings at the meet with $635,360 to be named Outstanding Owner.
“We’re grateful to every member of our team who contributed to the colt’s success,” O’Neill said. “The award carries even more significance for me, because this is Santa Anita’s big meet where so many great horses compete.”
It marked the second Horse of the Meet honor for an O’Neill trainee. Rags-to-riches Lava Man won in 2006-07.
I’ll Have Another also was named the meet’s outstanding 3-year-old, while the Santa Anita Derby was named Race of the Meet. The first three horses in the $750,000 race decided at 1 1/8 miles were separated by just a half-length after a thrilling stretch battle, with 42-1 pacesetter Blueskiesnrainbows finishing third, a half-length behind I’ll Have Another.
Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert won his record 10th Santa Anita training title and was voted Trainer of the Meet for the second straight campaign. Baffert won for the eighth time since balloting was initiated in 1972-73, a poll record. The 59-year-old Arizona native won 46 races from 158 starters.
Joel Rosario also won honors as outstanding jockey for the second straight year. The 27-year-old native of the Dominican Republic won 89 races from 409 mounts to outdistance runner-up Rafael Bejarano by 17 victories.
Ron the Greek, who shipped in from the East Coast for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, won the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap to earn honors as Older Horse.
Selections in other categories: Include Me Out, winner of the Grade II La Cańada Stakes and the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes, Older Filly or Mare; Bourbon Bay, who captured the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes and the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Grass Horse; Vamo a Galupiar, winner of the Megahertz Stakes and the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes, Grass Filly or Mare; Willa B Awesome, who won the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes before posting a 13-1 upset in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, 3-year-old filly.
Also, Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie, winner of the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes, was top sprinter for the second consecutive year. The victory for trainer Bill Spawr, who owns the California-bred son of Northern Afleet with Tom Sanford, gave Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith win No. 5,000 in his illustrious career.
Eswan Flores, 19, was top apprentice rider by virtue of 54 victories, placing him fourth in the standings behind journeymen Bejarano, Rosario and Joe Talamo.
Achievement of the Meet was awarded to Peter Eurton, who saddled what is believed to be a Santa Anita record of eight consecutive winners. The 54-year-old trainer began his streak on April 5 with Belle Passe and capped it when Chickie Charms won on April 14. None of his horses paid more than $8.80 to win.
Crossing The Line, a 10-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding trained by John Sadler, was named Claiming Horse of the Meet. A son of Cape Cross owned by Richard Templar of Chicago, who races as Doubledown Stables, Inc., Crossing The Line won twice at the $22,500 level on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, coming from next to last in a field of 10 on March 22 to capture his last start
In 20 career starts, Crossing The Line has 10 wins and earnings of $376,448.
2011-12 Santa Anita Winter/Spring Media Poll
Horse of Meet: I’ll Have Another Sprinter: Amazombie
Older Horse: Ron the Greek Claimer: Crossing The Line
Older Filly/Mare: Include Me Out Trainer: Bob Baffert
Grass Horse: Bourbon Bay Jockey: Joel Rosario
Grass Filly/Mare: Vamo a Galupiar Apprentice: Eswan Flores
3-Year-Old: I’ll Have Another Race: Santa Anita Derby
3-Year-Old Filly: Willa B Awesome Owner: J. Paul Reddam
Achievement: Peter Eurton, 8 straight wins