Woodward Stakes Day
Mohawk Million Night
Summer & Natalma Stakes
Prince of Wales Stakes
Rhea Moon with Juan Hernandez aboard after winning the American Oaks
There were three turf stakes on opening day of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, highlighted by the $300,000 American Oaks (G1). A field of 11 three-year-old fillies went to post in this 1 1/4 mile trip out of the downhill chute, under cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80's. Salimah was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off her win in the Winter Memories Stakes at Aqueduct. In to challenge her included 4-1 second choice Mise En Scene, sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), and 13-2 third choice Rhea Moon, winner of the Autumn Miss (G3).
Rhea Moon on the outside in the stretch
Also on the card: Malibu Stakes (G1), San Antonio Stakes (G2), and La Brea Stakes (G1)
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Rhea Moon Hernandez 15.60 7.60 5.20 11 School Dance Vazquez 10.80 7.60 2 Sparkle Blue Bravo 6.80 Winning Time: 2:00.75 $1 Exacta 1-11 67.90 $1 Trifecta 1-11-2 500.60 $1 Superfecta 1-11-2-4 8,040.30
Left: Rhea Moon in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez said, "With four wins and three stakes wins, I feel really proud. My agent and I are a pretty good team, and he got me the opportunity to ride some nice horses today like this filly. She's improving every race, and she's won her last couple of races. She showed up today to do it again. This field is full of talent. Everyone brings their horses on a big day like Opening Day ready to run and win races. I had a ton of horses in front of me, and my trainer told me to save ground. So, I was just saving ground and waiting for the opportunity to present itself. Then, around the quarter pole I started following a horse who was having a nice trip and snuck in right behind that horse to cross the finish line first."
Right: Rhea Moon in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Phil D'Amato said, "I think going a mile and a quarter, the one hole was an advantage. Juan took advantage, just saving every inch of ground and getting her out in time. He gets a lot of credit for developing this filly…Juan and I are really in a groove, as much as Flavien and I do well, Juan and I just seem to really get on a hot streak and I have a lot of confidence in him as does everyone else. It is just great to see. I don't need to give him a lot of instructions and he gets the job done."
Left: Second place finisher School Dance in the paddock before the race. Jockey Ramon Vazquez said, "I felt like I had a lot of horse. My filly never gave up. At the sixteenth pole, I thought I'd win easy. The other horse flew outside and got me in the last jump."
Right: Third place finisher Sparkle Blue in the walking ring. The Graham Motion trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 8 starts, earning $393,075 for owners Augustin Stable and Catherine Parke.
Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Salimah returns after the race. The Chad Brown trainee has a record of 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 0 thirds in 5 starts, earning $147,863 for owner Stephanie Seymour Brant.
The $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (G2) featured a field of 7 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. John Henry Turf Classic (G2) winner and Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) third place finisher Masteroffoxhounds was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 5-2 second choice Prince Abama, winner of the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), and 7-2 third choice Dicey Mo Chara, 4th in the Hollywood Turf Cup.
11-1 Rip City and 16-1 Bob and Jackie dueled for the lead through fractions of 24.58, 48.67, and 1:11.55 while stalked by Masteroffoxhounds. Turning for home, Masteroffoxhounds gained the lead through 1 mile in 1;35.59 but Dicey Mo Chara, fifth early under Juan Hernandez, came out 4 wide for room and rallied to win by 1/2 a length over 22-1 longest shot Flashiest in 1:47.78. It was another length back to favorite Masteroffoxhounds third.
Left: Dicey Mo Chara in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez said, "This is a really nice horse. He kicked extremely well, and I had a very nice trip. He relaxed nicely behind the speed. Then around half of the turn when I asked him to go because it was time to go, he responded. He picked it up by himself, passed everyone else, and won the race." Owner Tim Cohen added, "It just took us a long time to figure him out. Leonard's done a great job. 'Dicey' just needs to get going a little sooner. He's a little lazy, kind of like a family member, but he goes on, and Juan gave him a great ride today. During a race I only look at my horse, I don't even know what everyone else did, I'm just watching our horse and hoping everybody gets a clean trip."
Right: Dicey Mo Chara in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Leonard Powell who trains the first two said, "I'm so grateful to the owners who put their trust in me. This is even more special for everyone because Mr. Cohen passed away last month. I would have loved a dead heat."
Left: Second place finisher Flashiest in the post parade. Trainer Leonard Powell said, "At the 3/8 pole, I thought Flashiest was going to get there. Both horses ran great."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Masteroffoxhounds in the paddock before the race. The Phil D'Amato trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 5 thirds in 21 starts, earning $550,042 for owner Rockingham Ranch.
Kicking off Opening Day at 11am was the $200,000 Santa Anita Mathis Mile Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds going 1 mile on the turf. After Agatino scratched, Balnikhov was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 6 over 2-1 second choice I'm a Gambler and 3-1 third choice Sumter.
Jockey Mike Smith sent Sumter to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.31, 46.50, and 1:10.16 while pressed by 16-1 longest shot One More Bid and stalked by I'm a Gambler. Entering the lane Sumter continued to lead through 7f in 1:21.88 but One More Bid, confidently ridden by Ramon Vazquez, came on late and outfinished late-closing favorite Balnikhov to win by a nose in 1:33.67. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Sumter third.
Left: One More Bid in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Ramon Vazquez said, "He's getting more professional now. He's getting better every race. Now he let's me work with him. I felt like I had a lot of horse on the backside. I was waiting for the moment. This horse continues to get better and better. This horse really dug in in the stretch. I don't look at the odds on the board. This horse has been really working good and doing good. I never pay attention to odds; I ride my horse."
Right: One More Bid returns after the race. Winning owner Matt Dohman said, "I'm over the moon right now, I mean the horse has been training really well but I thought he could win. I was a little perplexed that he went off at such long odds, but he ran really well." Trainer Ryan Hanson added, "This is the last chance to run against 3-year-olds, the timing was right, and he'd been working really good."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Balnikhov in the paddock before the race. Trainer Phil D'Amato said, "My horse tried. I'm happy with his performance; we just got beat a nostril."
Right: Third place finisher Sumter in the walking ring. The Richard Mandella trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 10 starts, earning $249,600 for owner-breeders Perry and Ramona Bass.
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