Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Santa Anita Meet End Awards

The 2010-2011 Santa Anita Winter-Spring meet is over, and it provided many highs and lows. From the scintillating performances on opening day to the painful lows of the the horses who did not survive the meet, this meet had a wide range of emotions. The efforts of some of the horses who ran deserve special acclaim. This post will celebrate a wide array of achievements, including which horse earned the Horse of The Meet honors according to this blog.

First up is the award for best claimer of the meet. The winner is Separate Forest (right). She climbed the ladder all the way from $25KN2L on the main track to a win in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on Big Cap day over the heavily favored Unzip Me. This daughter of Forestry was claimed from the Richard Mandella barn by Doug O'Neill in her $25kN2L victory, and he quickly sent her up the ladder. The win in the Las Cienegas came only one week after she won an allowance race. She won four of her 6 starts, with her losses being in her first race of the meet in the Mandella barn in an allowance race and her 4th race, where she could not overcome a troubled trip. Congratulations to the connections who claimed her, making a shrewd decision.

The award for biggest disappointment is next, and it goes to the injury of Premier Pegasus on the Thursday before the Santa Anita Derby. This blog believed that he had a huge chance to be the one not only to break the 22 year long drought of no Santa Anita Derby winner going on to win the Kentucky Derby, but to end the 33 year end drought of not having a triple crown winner. His run in the San Felipe was devastating, and if he had won the Santa Anita Derby, he would be your current Kentucky Derby favorite. The Myung Kwon Cho barn suffered double the heartbreak this meet, as both PrePeg and Riveting Reason were knocked off the Derby trail with injuries. Hopefully they will come back from their maladies with the same energy and talent.

Next up is most impressive performance of the meet. There were several choices to choose from, with many of them coming in the maiden special weight ranks. The nominees are:
The Factor - Maiden special weight
Misremembered - Santana Mile
Maclean's Music - Maiden special weight win
Premier Pegasus - San Felipe Stakes
Runflatout - Maiden special weight

The winner is...

This son of Distorted Humor destroyed this group of maidens stylishly in his debut. He is now at Churchill Downs, along with the rest of the Steve Asmussen barn. Who knows what the future has in store for him. Maybe a start in the Derby Trial?

The next award is for most talked about race of the meet. That award goes to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. The drama-filled inquiry that followed stretched at least 13 minutes. In the end, there was no change, as Game On Dude was left up as the winner over Setsuko, with Quindici Man finishing third. In all the hubbub after the race that existed in social media after the decision, it is necessary to point out that almost all who wanted to disqualify Game On Dude wanted to place him fifth behind Twirling Candy, yet the only steward who voted to disqualify Game On Dude wanted to place him only as far back as second, behind Setsuko. This inquiry will live in the lore of this race, going along side the other much-talked about inquiries, the disqualification of The Wicked North in 1994 and the disqualification of Perrault in 1982.

The final award is for horse of the meet. The nominees are:
Game On Dude
Malibu Pier
Midnight Interlude
Smiling Tiger

and the winner is...


This European import went three for four for the meet, with her only defeat being in her first start, which was heavily compromised by a loose horse who dropped the jockey at the start. The tiny filly went on to sweep the remaining three year old filly turf stakes, winning the Grade 3 La Habra, the China Doll and the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes. In a These races ranged from six & one-half furlong down the hill all the way to a mile and one-eighth. She won them all rolling from the back of the pack in dramatic style under jockey Garrett Gomez. This Jeff Bonde trainee (who also trains Smiling Tiger) could be pointed to races like the Del Mar Oaks later in the year. Maybe she can even become like another tiny filly who won the Providencia Stakes on her way to greater things, Megahertz.

So the books are closed on the Santa Anita meet, with some good performances, some iffy thoughts and plenty of fodder for people to talk about. Good luck to everybody as the scene shifts across town to the track of the lakes and flowers, Hollywood Park.


  1. Yes! Agree Cambina should have been Horse of the Meet. One has to see her in person to realize how tiny she is. But she won 3 stakes races this meet, 2 graded, from 6.5 to 9 furlongs. Consistency was lacking from the top horses this meet(last year Bourbon Bay and Sidney's Candy won 3 graded stakes and were NOT Horse of the Meet b/c Tuscan Evening won 4), with the exception of Cambina and maybe Regally Ready, the turf sprinter. It took a while, but in the last few weeks we finally saw a few other repeat stakes winners in Amazombie, Malibu Pier, and Juniper Pass.

    I know you could have been accused of bias, but you would have been in the right to have selected PrePeg's San Felipe as performance of the meet. In all respect to Macclean's Music, his race was a maiden, while PrePeg won the San Felipe, a gr.2 that's been run for decades, by the largest margin in the race's history. PrePeg energized what had been a sleepy Triple Crown trail in SoCal, and entered most people's top 5 Derby list. The fact PrePeg was subsequently injured does not take away from the excitement he provided.

    I would like to add another category, one Santa Anita did actually vote on-Race of the Meet. In the SA poll, the clash between Champ Pegasus and Bourbon Bay in the San Luis Obispo won for Race of the Meet. I have trouble disagreeing. This, even though traditional races like the Big Cap, SA Derby, and San Juan Capistrano also had thrilling finishes. But for 2nd I would probably have to go back to opening day's Malibu Stakes and the narrow finish between Twirling Candy and Smiling Tiger. The Malibu field was excellent, the top horses really performed, the time was a track record, and the finish exciting.

  2. Hey who's your pick for the Derby? I know I had picked and kept close watch of PrePeg's rise thru the KY Derby contenders ranks but injury has pushed this talented colt aside for now and I hope he comes back for the handicap division next year. With that being said, I like Shackleford for some reason. It might be post-traumatic syndrome from PrePeg but he looks like a colt on the rise and with this group, I really believe trip, "peakness", and possibly pace would make the race. Let me know your thoughts.