Where did the Santa Anita horses go? Why did they leave?

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, DC, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, NV, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV, & WY.

Santa Anita missed 13 racing days in March when the track was closed and the main track was inspected, evaluated, and repaired following a severe rise in equine fatalities this winter.

With the help of consultant Dennis Moore, who was rehired by Santa Anita in March, the track surface appears to have rebounded and has been much safer both for morning training and in the afternoon for racing.

The horse population figured to be ready to go once racing resumed on March 29, but instead, field sizes have dropped significantly. This past Saturday, just 57 horses started on the nine-race card, an average of just 6.3 horses per race. On Sunday, only eight races were carded and 47 horses (5.9 horses per race) faced the starter. On any weekend day at Santa Anita the usual minimum number of races carded is nine.

Where did the horses go? Why did they leave?

Last weekend at Keeneland in Kentucky and at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, the following SoCal trainers had at least one starter: Richard Baltas, Bob Baffert, Phil D’Amato, John Sadler, Ron Ellis, Doug O’Neill, Jeff Mullins, Keith Desormeaux, and Shelbe Ruis. Ben Huffman, the Racing Secretary at Keeneland, reports there are as many as 60 California horses on the grounds compared to the usual 20 or so that come in each spring.

The most common reasons heard for the exodus of horses? The uncertainty in March as to when racing would resume forced trainers to look for other options. When racing did resume March 29, new medication restrictions including a reduction in the allowable dosage of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix has forced some horses to leave the circuit.

Santa Anita then declared they will not use the downhill portion of their turf course in April, which impacted the turf sprints and marathon turf races that often draw large fields.

Trainer Mark Glatt told the Daily Racing Form he will be sending as many as 15 horses to Kentucky to participate at the upcoming Churchill Downs spring-summer meet. Trainer Peter Miller plans to send additional horses to Kentucky (he already has approximately 15 horses there). O’Neill is setting up a second stable in Kentucky.

Santa Anita had a three-day race week last weekend and will have a three-day race week this week (Friday through Sunday), both by design. Four-day race weeks are scheduled to resume on April 25, but there have been discussions about racing just three days a week through the rest of the meet that ends June 23. 

The possibility of a reduced number of local racing days and the purse levels at slots-infused locations like Churchill Downs have horsemen considering their options more than ever. The trickle down could have a significant impact on the Los Alamitos and Del Mar meets this summer, not to mention the immediate impact on the lives of the tellers, ushers, parking lot attendants, food service providers, and the many others who may not be able to make a living working just three days a week.

West is Best

Despite all of the interruptions at Santa Anita this winter, California will once again be sending a host of major contenders for the May 4 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Omaha Beach, trained by Richard Mandella, may end up the post time favorite after his good win in last Saturday’s Arkansas Derby over the Bob Baffert trained Improbable. The latter ran a big race after becoming very fractious in the starting gate and having to be reloaded prior to the start.

They join Baffert’s 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby — Roadster and Game Winner — in what could be the top four wagering choices at Churchill Downs.

Omaha Beach and Improbable were headed directly to Churchill Downs from Oaklawn Park this week, while Roadster and Game Winner figure to do their prep work for the Derby at Santa Anita before they ship to Kentucky for the race.

Problems at Pimlico

Pimlico, home of the Preakness Stakes May 18, will close approximately half of its grandstand after the north portion was deemed to be structurally unsound by an engineering group hired by the track owners, The Stronach Group.

As a result, approximately 6,600 of the 14,000 seats available in the grandstand have been declared “No longer suitable to sustain that level of load bearing weight.”

A study by the Maryland Stadium Authority last year estimated it would cost $424 million to rebuild Pimlico from the ground up and would include residential and retail developments. The study also estimated Pimlico needed $29 million for improvements to the grandstand if there was no commitment for a total rebuild.

The Stronach Group has said they will not invest in a rebuild of Pimlico and instead has concentrated on improvements to their other Maryland track — Laurel Park — where they hope to host a Breeders’ Cup in the future.

Remembering Davidowitz

Steve Davidowitz, author of the iconic handicapping book “Betting Thoroughbreds” has died at the age of 77.

Davidowitz wrote for newspapers from Florida to Pennsylvania, and also worked for publications the Daily Racing Form, the Racing Times, Turf and Sport Digest and Gaming Today.

Included in his book were concepts like track bias and key races, angles that are commonly used by handicappers today.

Davidowitz lived in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas and also was a regular handicapping seminar guest at tracks around the country as well as race books in Las Vegas.

Services are pending.

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday Race 2 – Sturdy One (No. 1). This older mare has been in the Exacta in her last five starts over a fast dirt surface at Santa Anita. The course specialist could be the controlling speed from her rail post. Catch her to win. 

Get signed up for a VIP account today to enjoy all we have to offer.

At Gaming Today we are dedicated to providing valuable up-to-date information on the casino industry and pari-mutuel race wagering. With news and features, plus expanded coverage in key areas – race and sports analysis, picks, tips, and handicapping.

About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

Get connected with us on Social Media