Who said California horse racing is dead? Certainly not the patrons at Santa Anita.
With veteran 7-year-old gelding Game On Dude and 3-year-old superstar California Chrome headlining a blockbuster 11-race program on Saturday, total Santa Anita Handicap Day handle was $22,589,082, a robust 23 percent increase over last year.
Saturday’s on-track handle of $3,716,513 was up 11 percent over last year’s $3,347,152.
The on-track attendance of 27,121 represented a one percent increase over last year’s 26,901.
California Chrome, trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, annihilated six rivals in a gate to wire romp for the ages, winning the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles San Felipe stakes by 7 ¼ lengths in 1:40.59—the second fastest clocking in the 77- year history of the prestigious prep to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
A California-bred colt by Lucky Pulpit owned by his breeders, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, California Chrome earned 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, virtually assuring himself of a berth in the Run for the Roses May 3.
Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, ridden by Mike Smith and owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride Stable, LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable and Bernard Schiappa, became the first three-time winner in the 77-year history of the Big ’Cap.
In a devastating gate to wire performance, he won by 1 ¼ lengths and established a new stakes record, covering 1 ¼ miles in 1:58.17—shading the immortal Affirmed’s 1:58.60 in 1979.
There was one winning ticket in the Pick Six Saturday that was worth $234,434.00. It was purchased through TVG.
Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Sunday with first post time for a nine-race program at 12:30 p.m.
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