Boy, oh boy, Santa Anita is pulling out all the stops with their traditional Opening Day program on December 26. There are three graded races on the card, including the Grade 3 $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes, the Grade 1 $300,000 La Brea Stakes, and the Grade 1 $300,000 Malibu Stakes.
The Sir Beaufort will be run at one mile on the turf and features the latest rage in Southern California turf racing, The Usual Q.T., who is a prohibitive 4-5 favorite. The Usual Q.T. has won five straight races, included two Graded efforts in his last two, the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby and the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Also present in the field is Massone, who ran 2nd in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington two back and 3rd in the Grade 2 Super Derby three starts back.
The La Brea is a wonderfully-balanced twelve horse field with a morning line favorite of 4-1. That favorite is Gabby's Golden Gal, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park back in June. She has only run once since that victory, although her chances were compromised in the Prioress, also at Belmont, after she stumbled at the start. The second choice is Evita Argentina at 9-2, who has never run on anything other than a synthetic surface in her twelve-race career. Her last win was the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park in July.
The Malibu includes some of the better three-year-olds from early and late in the year, like the Bob Baffert trainee, Misremembered, who drew the rail. Misremembered won the Grade 2 Indiana Derby and followed that up with a near-miss 2nd in the Clark Handicap to Blame, who promises to be one of the top older horses during his four-year-old campaign next year. M One Rifle, who has never missed the money in seven lifetime starts will face his first field of Graded competition in the Malibu. Also in this field are Kentucky Derby participants Papa Clem and Join In The Dance.
They Are Off will have thoughts on all of these races on Thursday and there will be no post on Friday, Christmas Day.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!