Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Santa Anita Oak Tree Opening Day Results

Date: 9/28/03

The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship prep circus shifted over to the West Coast on Sunday, with four races run over this year's World Thoroughbred Championships site, Santa Anita Park. These horses may have an advantage over those who raced yesterday at Belmont by having their final preps over that course.

Got Koko winner of the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita.
The most important race of the day, despite its small field, was the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. In this event, reigning Breeders' Cup Distaff champion and Horse of the Year Azeri was back, attempting to extend her winning streak to twelve and was assigned a whopping 128 pounds, the highest impost she has had to carry during her career. However Got Koko with Alex Solis aboard rained on Azeri's parade, upsetting the champ and giving some of the bridge jumpers a chance to do exactly that. Got Koko rallied from last early going four wide on the turn, to just get up by 1/2 a length on second place finisher Elloluv at the wire. The final time was 1:42.92. Azeri was slow early, not wanting to get caught in the brisk pace set by longest shot Royally Chosen, but was left with too much to do down the short Santa Anita stretch and could only get up for third. Elloluv was later disqualified to fourth for interfering with Adoration, moving Azeri up to second thus saving those who hammered her in the place pool (there was no show wagering) from having to seek the nearest tall bridge. Results Chart

Winning jockey Alex Solis said, "When I saw Azeri back there (in the field), I thought I had a good chance. I knew my filly has a tremendous late kick. Getting that weight was a big advantage, but my filly made it work. The pace was perfect; it was just right. And then my filly ran her race. She is so special. She's a great filly and she ran a great race today. [Azeri] is a tremendous filly, but my filly is a great one too." Trainer Bruce Headley confirmed that Got Koko will start next in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Mike Smith, aboard Azeri said, "She broke really sluggishly, but that's not unusual for her. When that happened, they were kind of looking for her and they were going to carry me out. I thought, 'Well, I'll just tuck in behind them and save ground, and I'll be able to wheel out of there any time I want.' That's what I did, and I got her out there in plenty of time to get her running, but I just couldn't get her running." By earning the second place money, Azeri passed Lady's Secret for second in all time earnings by a female horse. She is only $495,722 short of all-time leader Spain. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on where she starts next now that the win streak record is no longer on the line.

Storming Home winner of the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship featured older horses going 1 1/4 miles on the turf, 2 furlongs shorter than the Breeders' Cup Turf in four weeks' time. Only four horses faced the starter here, and as expected 3-10 favorite Storming Home took home the honors. Sitting in the back of the pack early, Gary Stevens had plenty of horse left under him turning for home as they charged for the front and wore down a stubborn Johar in the final furlong to win by 1/2 a length in 2:01.64. Winning trainer Neil Drysdale said, "You bet I was concerned [about the pace]. He showed me another dimension today. He did it very well. Gary said he was completely switched off and that he felt he had the measure of the other horses. He behaved very well. He's always behaved well here." This was Gary Stevens' first start aboard Storming Home since the horse dumped him in the final strides of the Arlington Million. He commented, "I haven't slept well since (the Million), and not just because of what happened to me. There's a lot of hard work that has gone into this horse, from the trainer, to the assistant trainer to the groom, to the exercise rider, everybody. They love this horse, and to have that kind of prize money taken away, and the prestige of the Arlington Million taken away, it hurt everyone." The first two finishers in the race are both confirmed to start next in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Results Chart

Tates Creek winner of the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon, also at 1 1/4 miles on turf and the richest race of the day with a purse of $500,000, featured the fillies and mares prepping for the Filly and Mare Turf over the exact same course and distance as the championship event. 9-10 favorite Tates Creek did not disappoint her backers, coming on strong between horses off a stalking trip to win by 3/4 length over late closing 3-1 second choice Musical Chimes in 2:00.77. This finally gave Tates Creek a win at this distance, but trainer Bobby Frankel has not confirmed if she will go on to the Breeders' Cup. Winning jockey Pat Valenzuela said, "Who said she couldn't get a mile and a quarter. She ran a great race, and this is back-to-back Yellow Ribbons for me. I'm just thankful I made the right decision at Del Mar when I took Tates Creek instead of Golden Apples, who is now retired and will be a great broodmare. It worked out this time. I stuck with a top-notch horse and have been able to stick with her." Trainer Neil Drysdale said of his second-place finisher, "I thought Musical Chimes ran a lovely race. I think off this race justifies a try at the Breeders' Cup [Filly & Mare Turf]." Results Chart

Halfbridled winner of the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes for two-year-old fillies may have confirmed the favorite in the Juvenile Fillies. 3-10 favorite Halfbridled simply dominated the competition. Grabbing the early lead, relinquishing it down the backstretch, and then regaining it on the far turn, Halfbridled drew off to win by four lengths over Tarlow in 1:43.72. Winning jockey Julie Krone said, "She is truly amazing. Her stride is incredible, and again she galloped out like a monster. She's just so professional and so easy to ride. When she gets going, she's just amazing. She just grabs the ground and the ears go up and down. She's extremely athletic." Winning trainer Richard Mandella said, "She really gives me goosebumps. I feel pretty confident in her (Halfbridled). I said from the start she's a pretty special filly, so I think I'll stick with that. I hope we can keep everything healthy (until the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies)." Results Chart

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