Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Santa Anita Weekend Stakes

Date: 03/15/2004

Santa Anita was once again a busy place to be, with some of the top horses in the country competing, especially in the three-year-old divisions.

The Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks saw the sophomore debut of undefeated champion Halfbridled. With regular rider Julie Krone out with an injury, Gary Stevens inherited the mount for trainer Richard Mandella. The public respected Halfbridled's unblemished record, sending her off at 1-2 odds in the field of seven.

Silent Sighs wins the Santa Anita Oaks over favorite Halfbridled.
36-1 longshot Salty Romance was loose on the lead early, taking the field through a half in 46.49 and 3/4 in 1:10.82, as 7-1 shot Silent Sighs gave chase. Stevens kept Halfbridled in a stalking position in fourth, saving ground on the inside. 3-1 second choice A.P. Adventure was wide throughout but always in contention. Turning for home, the pacesetter succumbed to her fast fractions and gave way, as stalker Silent Sighs gained the lead. Halfbridled split rivals at the top of the stretch and gave chase, but Silent Sighs had stretched her lead to two lengths with a furlong to go and easily held off Halfbridled at the wire, to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:42.84 for the 1 1/16 mile event. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to A.P. Adventure. Results Chart

Winning jockey David Flores celebrates on Silent Sighs. He said, "I was confident all the way from the first part of the race, I was very comfortable. When I was set to go I could feel everybody start pushing, so I just saved a little more, then at the quarter pole I went after them. She didn't change her lead, but she just kept running. I was patient, I knew there was a lot of speed in the race. I just tried to run my own race, and it worked out good."

Beaten favorite Halfbridled before the race. Her jockey Gary Stevens said, "No excuses. I've never ridden her before and we were in a little tight around the first turn and she didn't like it inside, but I never got a chance to get her out. I knew I was beat when we turned into the stretch. That other filly (Silent Sighs) wasn't stopping and my filly wasn't accelerating enough to get there, but she was sure trying. She ran a gallant race." Trainer Richard Mandella said she would go next in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 30.

Third place finisher A.P. Adventure before the race. Her jockey Alex Solis said, "She's still learning. I think we're going to try to put the blinkers on her. I think it's going to really help her because she was really wandering around. She's just green. She just needs more experience."

Preachinatthebar on the inside wins the San Felipe Stakes over St. Averil.
The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes is a major local prep for the Santa Anita Derby, with nine hopefuls facing the starter including 13-10 favorite St. Averil. 8-1 shot Odds On made the running early, through fractions of 23.39 and 46.82 before weakening. 9-1 shot Preachinatthebar, who had stalked the pace early, inherited the lead on the turn and pulled away, getting the jump on the favorite and running 1 1/2 lengths clear with a furlong to go. St. Averil came out three wide and closed willingly but Preachinatthebar held him off to win by a nose in 1:42.87 for the 1 1/16 mile event. It was a long 4 1/2 lengths back to 20-1 longshot Harvard Avenue in third. 5-2 second choice and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Action This Day was never in contention, stalking the pace to the inside early and coming out in the stretch but had no rally. Results Chart

61-1 longshot Laditude stumbled at the start and dumped jockey Mike Smith, but continued to completed the race, interfering with Action This Day on the first turn. You can see him to the right here just inside of Action This Day. Richard Mandella, trainer of seventh-placed finisher Action This Day, said, "When he went into the first turn there was some jamming and he's got a big gash behind his ankle on his right hind leg. We just have to hope it's not too bad."

Winning jockey Javier Santiago aboard Preachinatthebar returns after the race. He said, "I don't know who to choose between Wimbledon and this horse. Bob Baffert told me it's my choice. It was the way we planned it, being close to the pace. Baffert wanted the other horse on the lead. I had a relaxed position coming to the first turn, and I saw the horse (Laditude, who stumbled and lost his rider) coming in inside of me, and my horse got bumped and took off on me. I had to gear him down again, and continue riding my own race." SFelipeWCs

Preachinatthebar in the winner's circle with trainer Bob Baffert to the far left. He said, "I was taking my time with him. He was a little bit late coming around but he ran like we thought he would. This horse finally did it. I thought he was going to run a big race. I'm just happy for (owner) Mike Pegram. It's been a little dry for us lately but I told him I still have a lot of faith in this horse. He's starting to fill out and you don't know how exciting it is to win a stake with (a) Silver Charm. He's going to be a great sire. I love that horse."

Rafael Becerra, trainer of beaten favorite St. Averil, said, "He ran good. He missed some work due to the rainy weather and that might have cost him, but outside of not winning, I'm very happy. I'll talk it over with Mr. [Stan, owner] Fulton and we'll decide what's next."

Adoration winning the Santa Margarita Invitational.
The Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap featured the older fillies and mares competing at 1 1/8 miles. This edition marked the return of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Adoration, who was sent of as the 5-2 third choice in the compact field of just 5 (with only four betting interests; Adoration was coupled with Fencelineneighbor due to common ownership). 2-1 second choice Star Parade was quickest out of the gate and she got loose on the lead through a half in 46.76 and 3/4 in 1:11.07, as Adoration stalked her off the rail. Turning for home, Adoration made her move and by mid stretch had collared the pacesetter, inching away over the final furlong to win by 2 lengths in 1:48.85. It was a head back from Star Parade to favorite Bare Necessities in third. Results Chart

Adoration in the winner's circle with Mike Smith aboard and trainer David Hofmans to the right.
Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "She just ran dynamite. She came into this race good, and today she was really confident. When I got on her today and was warming her up, she was just oozing confidence, she was jogging nice, she was relaxed, and striding out like she owned the place. And on the backside she was just taking me wherever I wanted to go, and it was pretty much over after that. Once I hit the front I kept after her just enough to keep her busy."

Winning trainer David Hofmans said, "She came into this race a little better than she did the last one (Santa Maria Handicap). This time I backed off and let her gain a little weight and let her settle and it seemed to help her. She'd gotten sick a few days (before the Santa Maria) so I missed a few days. The strategy (today) was just to stay back and let Star Parade do her thing." She may start next in the Grade 1 Vanity Stakes at Hollywood on May 9.

Victor Espinoza aboard second place finisher Star Parade said, "Just not good enough in the end to beat the other horses this time. She was running pretty good and when (Adoration) came in behind me I let her go, but she didn't have it like she usually does. She was pretty good all the way around. She was steady all the way, and there were just medium fractions, but she just never kicked it in like before. Before when I let her go she would really kick."

Photos courtesy of Tina Hines.

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