Opening Day

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After a one-week break, racing returned to Santa Anita in grand style…32,931 fans on-track (boosted by spinners that wanted more than one calendar), who bet nearly $5 million. Overall, nearly $15 in total all-source handle for the nine-race card. The atmosphere was great with a definite buzz in the air.

LATENT HEAT was a very solid winner of the Grade I Malibu after getting a perfect stalking trip from the outside. MIDNIGHT LUTE compromised his chances by breaking poorly, then hung right on the line for second. BROTHER DEREK raced in traffic most of the way but never looked good out there. ARSON SQUAD was very disappointing.

In other stakes, PIRATES DEPUTY closed strongly from far back to win the Cal Breeders’ Champion Stakes over longshot TAP IT LIGHT. Maiden COMPLEXITY ran very well on the lead before tiring late to be a promising third.

KIP DEVILLE found room inside through the lane to take the Sir Beaufort over a three-horse blanket for second, giving Richard Migliore his first career winner at Santa Anita. PORTO SANTO raced wide and hung late, which he is known to do.

The riding star of the day was Garrett Gomez, who took down four winners, including two for trainer Bob Baffert. In a winner’s circle presentation early in the card, Gomez presented the Winners Foundation with a $10,000 check, showing his graditude for the Foundation’s role in helping him straighten out his life. Owner Bob Bone, trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Patrick Valenzuela were all presented awards for leading their respective categories at last year’s meet. P.Val was dressed in a suit (still recovering from broken ribs) and thanked the fans for their strong support on opening day.

Todd Pletcher begins his 45-day suspension tomorrow…his local string will run under assistant trainer Michael (Whitey) McCarthy’s name. You’ve come a long way, Whitey.

The first-ever “early” Pick 4 at Santa Anita paid $2,123 and the late Pick 4 returned $1,717…the power of full fields at work again.

No detectable track bias as horses won on the lead and from behind. The three turf races were won by off-the-pace runners who were within striking distance at the top of the stretch.

No racing tomorrow…see you on Thursday.

To view Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Dec. 26



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