PRESTIGIOUS GRADE I, $300,000 MALIBU LEADS WORLD-CLASS OPENING DAY CARD AT SANTA ANITA, CONDITIONS IDYLIC AS GREAT RACE PLACE KICKS OFF 76TH SEASON, ON-TRACK CROWD OF 27,273 ATTEND AS WEATHER CLEARS

GRADE I, $300,000 LA BREA FOR 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES &GRADE II, $150,000 SIR BEAUFORT AT ONE MILE ON GRASS COMPLEMENT DEEP PROGRAM

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2012)—Although The Lumber Guy disappointed as the heavy 4-5 favorite in the day’s main event, the weatherman cooperated as skies cleared by mid-morning and Santa Anita was every bit it’s majestically iconic self as The Great Race Place opened Wednesday for the 76th time and treated fans to a graded stakes triple header headed by the 60th running of the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

The Malibu provided fans with a near record-setting performance as longshot Jimmy Creed powered home under Garrett Gomez to win by three quarters of a length in a rapid 1:20.36—less than two fifths of a second off Spectacular Bid’s 1:20 flat Malibu clocking in 1980, a track and stakes record that stood for 30 years.

Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Jimmy Creed had trained well since running an even ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, a race in which The Lumber Guy had run second. Ridden for the sixth consecutive time by Gomez, the son of Distorted Humor tackled pacesetter Private Zone and Martin Pedroza at the top of the stretch, gradually wearing him down in game fashion.

“Garrett gave him a great ride, kept him out of the dirt as best he could,” said Mandella. “The horse doesn’t like dirt in his face and that’s basically what bothered him in the Breeders’ Cup. We trained him behind horses and schooled him as much as we could, so I just told Garrett it was up to him to do what he thinks best…We’ll probably look at the Strub (Feb. 2) and the Santa Anita Handicap (March 2), all that kind of stuff.”

Although significant rain fell overnight and into early morning, the main track was listed as fast for the Malibu, with splits of 22.74, 44.77 and 1:08.27 serving as ready indicators of a glib surface.

“I was trying to follow John (Velazquez, on The Lumber Guy) because I thought his horse would be a bit wider than Martin’s (Pedroza) horse (Private Zone),” said Gomez. “When we started to turn for home John’s horse started to stop and I just slid out. It was a beautiful trip. It was a good learning experience for this horse and he just keeps getting better…Hopefully he just continues to keep doing what he’s doing.”

Off at 8-1, Jimmy Creed paid $19.20, $8.80 and $7.00. Private Zone, dispatched at 15-1, held second, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Unbridled’s Note and Corey Nakatani. Private Zone returned $11.00 and $8.00. Unbridled’s Note paid $4.40 to show.

Jimmy Creed more than doubled his career earnings, picking up $180,000, which ran his bankroll to $313,000. His record stands at 7-3-2-1.

As for the Lumber Guy, it obviously wasn’t his day. “He just didn’t come with any running at all,” said Velazquez, who flew in from Florida ride the son of Grand Slam who had been transferred from Eastern-based trainer Michael Hushion to Neil Drysdale following the Breeders’ Cup. “(It was) probably the first time I rode him on a wet track, a muddy track. He was going so well the first part of the race. I was very confident in what he was doing. I gave him his head but he didn’t go anywhere.”

Conversely, trainer Doug O’Neill was giddy about the way runner-up Private Zone ran.

“He ran dynamite and it looks like he came back good,” said O’Neill. (Former jockey) Rene Douglas manages this horse and is so involved with him. I almost did something really stupid and sent him out of town, and Rene said, ‘Doug, I’m 100 percent behind you but please, keep him for the Malibu and let’s have the Dubai sprint (Golden Shaheen on March 30) as our goal. So far, so good.”

BOOK REVIEW, BEJARANO JUST UP IN GRADE I LA BREA

As 2-5 favorite My Miss Aurelia and longshot Reneesgotzip battled head and head on the front-end, Book Review was in the process of unwinding a huge stretch rally with a furlong to go in the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, and the Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Giant’s Causeway managed to get up and win by neck on the far outside.

Sent from her number three post position by Garrett Gomez, Reneesgotzip was engaged by the favorite, ridden by Corey Nakatani, from the half mile mark and was ultra game in defeat finishing a neck in front of My Miss Aurelia, last year’s undefeated Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly.

“She did everything I was wanting her to do except get to the line first,” said Gomez. “She got hooked every bit of the way and she didn’t get any opportunity to take a breath of air. She kept to her task and ran a tremendous race.”

Owned and bred by Gary and Mary West, Book Review had been based in New York prior to being transferred from trainer Chad Brown to Baffert in advance of the La Brea. Unhurried early, Book Review was 7 ½ lengths behind pacesetting Reneesgotzip at the half mile pole.

“The West’s wanted to see the horse run here and this race really looked like the logical spot for her,” said Baffert. “She’s a late-running sprinter. She got here, she looked great, she trained really well so we took a stab at it and it worked out.

“It’s great to be here on opening day and to win a Grade I, that’s like a Christmas gift to myself.”

The win provided Hall of Famer Baffert with his seventh triumph in the prestigious La Brea and improved Book Review’s record to 10-5-2-1. The winner’s share of $180,000 boosted her earnings to $594,995. The win also gave three-time Santa Anita leading rider Bejarano his first triumph in the La Brea.

Book Review chased fractions of 22.42, 44.17, 1:08:89 and came home in 1:22.41 on a surface that was upgraded to “fast” later in the day.

Book Review, off at 9-2, paid $11.60, $5.40 and $2.60. Reneesgotzip paid $5.80 and $2.40. My Miss Aurelia paid $2.10 to show.

My Miss Aurelia, who tasted defeat for the first time when running second behind Horse of the Year candidate Royal Delta in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 3, brushed twice through the lane with Reneesgotzip.

“Not the ideal trip,” said Nakatani. “I wanted to be back a little ways (off the pace). I was sitting there against her and they’re riding next to me and you move on her and she goes. I was trying to wait-wait-wait-wait and when you do that, it takes the race away from her. It wasn’t the best of trips.”

HOT RIDING BEJARANO GETS SECOND STAKES WIN ON OPENING DAY WITH MANDELLA-TRAINED SILENTIO IN GRASSY GRADE II SIR BEAUFORT

Fresh off victory in the Grade I La Brea, Rafael Bejarano, united for the first time with the Gary Mandella-trained Silentio, made it two stakes wins in-a-row on opening day as he held off 3-1 favorite Battle Force and Mike Smith in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the Grade II, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes, for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf by a half-length, getting the distance on a course listed as “good” in 1:34.27.

Owned and bred by Wertheimer and Frere, Silentio broke his maiden at Santa Anita going one mile on turf in his debut, on Oct. 1, 2011. He was subsequently given time off and came back to win an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Sept. 5 at Del Mar, prior to running third in a second-condition allowance on Oct. 12 at Santa Anita.

“The only thing I’ll take credit for is we gave him a lot of time for his injury as a 2-year-old,” said Mandella. “He won last year here and came out of the race with activity in his tibia…But the bigger thing was he had some cysts in his hocks. They were dug out surgically and we gave him a lot of time to get over it.”

Although he had never ridden him, Bejarano was happy with the conditions.

“He really liked the turf today,” said the likeable Peruvian. “…the way he ran today, he was clear from the outside (post eight) and it was much better for him…that’s why he gave me a good turn of foot in the stretch.”

Smith, who had ridden Battle Force in his two previous starts, was quick to compliment his mount.

“He ran too good to lose,” said Smith. “I really have to applaud the winner because he beat me today, but they both ran winning races. I think it will be to our advantage as soon as we get to go a little further.”

Press Baron, off at 16-1 with Victor Espinoza, sat close to the pace and finished third, one length behind Battle Force. The early fractions of 23.14, 46.86, 1:10.78 were carved out by fourth-place finisher Big Bane Theory and Joe Talamo. Eventual winner Silentio took the lead at the top of the stretch, stopping the seven furlong split time at 1:22.59.

Silentio paid $8.40, $4.20 and $3.00. Battle Force paid $3.80 and $3.20. Press Baron paid $5.60 to show.

The winner’s share of $90,000 boosted the son of Silent Name’s bankroll to $165,960. His record now stands at 4-3-0-1.

Santa Anita will be dark on Thursday and will be open for live racing from Friday, Dec. 28, through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. First post through New Year’s Day will be at 12:30 p.m.

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