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Field sizes certainly have dwindled as we head into the final four days of racing at Santa Anita. After such strong numbers through late March, we’ve seen a drastic drop off in the past few weeks, and weather certainly can’t be used as an excuse. This has been one of the driest meets in history. The reasons? Too many race dates, too many races, too long of a meet. Other than Big Cap and Santa Anita Derby days, do we really ever need to run 10-race cards? And wouldn’t this meet be a whole lot stronger if it ended by running the closing-day San Juan Capistrano the day after the Santa Anita Derby and called it quits? Closing this year on April 8 instead off April 22 would help save us all from the dog days of short fields and uninteresting cards comprised of maiden claimers and cheap platers.

Two frivolous inquires called by the stewards today that each took about five minutes of deliberation. The first one involved the winner MY MAN MURF and a tiring PAPAGO ROAD at the 1/4-pole in the 2nd race, the other one apparently involved all the horses except front-running CHARMIN DOT coming down the hill in the 7th. The explanation that was passed down to announcer Trevor Denman? The “course configuration” with the “rails being out caused the problem.” No kidding? The course narrows at the head of the lane when the rails are out 15 feet like today, often times causing some interesting maneuvering as horses straighten away past the dirt crossing. Unbelievable.

Speaking of CHARMIN DOT, the Roger Stein-trained horses are running out of their minds right now…another training win for Rafael Becerra, the 18th of the meet for him and just one shy of his personal record for a Santa Anita season…he also claimed first-time starter CELTIC DREAMIN, who was a rather impressive winner of the nightcap…two more wins for Michael Baze, who seems to win at least one every racing day. He’s now sixth in the standings with 42 victories…you have to love an old pro like LORD ALBION, who returned from a near 10-month layoff to run down $12,500 claimers in the opener, giving the 9-year-old full horse 13 lifetime wins from 31 starts…despite the small fields, with Pick Six payoffs have been huge. On Sunday, there was a single winning ticket for the third straight day, and today’s paid $40,850 to three ticket holders.

The highlight of the day was the winner’s circle ceremony for retiring press boxer Fermo Cambianica after the 5th. Named the “Fermo Cambianica Bet to Place” due to his affinity for large place bets, Fermo was surrounded by dozens of friends and co-workers as Trevor read a glowing biography. Fermo has been hit by serious health problems recently and needed a wheelchair to get around the track to see friends today but he was beaming while surrounded by well-wishers, wearing the ball cap of his beloved Angels and a shirt given by the track that read “Fermo, 46 years at Santa Anita.” There hasn’t been a nicer, more helpful or generous man to grace that press box.

To view Sunday and Wednesday Premium Plays, click on the links below: Premium Plays for Apr. 15Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premium Plays for Apr. 18

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