The Santa Anita Handicap, known among the horsey set as the Big ’Cap, is probably the most highly anticipated race of 2014 so far. It’s a $750,000 race for horses four years old and older travelling a mile and a quarter, and this year’s edition has a seriously stacked field.
Bob Baffert said Thursday on Twitter that highly regarded Bayern would miss a planned start in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park, but the Hall of Fame trainer still has a great chance to win the key Kentucky Derby prep race.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and Chantal Sutherland-Kruse, a two-time Sovereign Award winner in her native Canada and one of racing's most recognizable personalities, take America's Best Racing's readers inside the jockeys' room in 2014. Stevens and Sutherland-Kruse will provide answers to all sorts of questions such as how jockeys get paid, what goes on between races, whom they admire and what type of music and fashion style they favor.
The Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby brings together a field of 10 sophomores vying for the 50 points that go to the winner in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system, which should be good enough to insure a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday in May. Leading the field is Vinceremos, one of two from the barn of North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher, the colt coming off a win in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, the local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby. Conquest Titan is another proven colt in the three-year-old stakes ranks, having rallied well from last of 11 to finish second last month in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes. When last seen in the fall, Coltimus Prime missed by a neck in the Display Stakes and is another contender of note. Surfing U S A returned from two months off near the end of January to finished second to Top Billing, who then ran well when third recently in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes.
As an avid tabletop board gamer and a fan of horse racing, I have a decent collection of racing-themed board games. If you’re a fan of board games and horse racing, you’re in luck: there are a LOT of horse racing board games from many different countries and dealing with all aspects of the sport: racing, breeding, owning, and gambling.
Sitting on top a camel, overlooking a field of youngsters destined to be racehorses for Al Shahania Stud, I was reminded racing is a sport that transcends countries, languages, religions and most of the other labels that are part and parcel of civilization. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Unbridled’s Song’s legacy remains strong in the wake of his death last year.
Top performers such as Eclipse Award champion three-year-old colt, Will Take Charge, carry Unbridled’s Song’s influence on the breed. As this year’s three-year-old crop unveils itself, the gray stallion’s descendants are once again a force, including the fittingly named filly, Unbridled Forever.
In 2013, the Stronach Group decided to do something completely different and hold a ‘pageant’ searching for one young lady to represent the racing industry for a year. With more than 100 contestants from California to Florida, young ladies competed for their chance at the title, which also awarded them $100,000!
Most American racing fans, and some surely beyond our shores, were smitten with the phenomenal competitiveness of last week’s Gotham Stakes, a fitting second course after the two main rivals, Samraat and Uncle Sigh, got after each other in the Withers. Samraat remains unbeaten, and has had to do more running than Uncle Sigh in both races. While the two-race combined margin between the horses is about 1 ¼ lengths, Samraat’s been doing his running from the outside, covering wider trips, and potentially inflating the legitimate gap between the two horses.
I’ll be honest up front; I didn’t think Wildcat Red wanted any part of 1 1/16 miles entering the Fountain of Youth Stakes. To me, he looked like a pure sprinter on the racetrack and a quick glance at his pedigree screamed “speed.” I was wrong. In the Fountain of Youth, Wildcat Red held off General a Rod in a thrilling finish to improve to four wins and two second in six races. He has a Grade 2 win around two turns and very likely has sufficient points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. It’s time to start taking this colt seriously, but is he a real threat for the Derby? Let’s take a look.
Undefeated Samraat would not be denied on Saturday in the $500,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, where he battled bravely through a stretch-long duel with Uncle Sigh and In Trouble to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
Author Roger Kahn once remarked that “horse racing is animated roulette,” a thought based on the difficultly of picking a winner in a race where so many things appear to be random and unpredictable. Horseplayers know our game is nowhere near as arbitrary as betting on a ball bouncing around in a circle decorated with numbers. At the same time, we also know that our game of handicapping is a constant challenge.
Fans who attend the Santa Anita Handicap on March 8, wager on it from off-track locations or using advance-deposit-wagering accounts or watch the nationally televised broadcast on FOX Sports 1 will be tapping into the latest running of one of the unique events in Thoroughbred racing’s history.
Asking a horse to jump from a claimer to an allowance race can be a highly difficult challenge for one main reason: class. As fast as a horse might seem, taking on better competition can be a humbling experience. Yet if there’s one place where class is a nebulous factor it would be a maiden race on a turf.
The Santa Anita Handicap (known as the Big ‘Cap in horse racing circles) will be shown on Fox Sports1 on March 8, and if you’re going to the races that day you want to be camera-ready … without breaking the bank. Below are three looks that are perfect for a day of top-notch Thoroughbred action at the Great Race Place for those of us who are sticking to a budget.
The Risen Star Stakes was a breakthrough race for Intense Holiday, a highly regarded colt who previously had run well in stakes competition without a victory. After opening the year with a third-place finish behind top 3-year-old Cairo Prince and Conquest Titan in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes, Intense Holiday closed powerfully to collar Albano in the final strides of the Risen Star and guarantee his place in the Kentucky Derby. The 50 points he earned moved Intense Holiday into first place on the Road to the Kentucky leaderboard, and he should have a starting spot secure for the first jewel of the Triple Crown provided all goes well between now and May 3.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and Chantal Sutherland-Kruse, a two-time Sovereign Award winner in her native Canada, take America's Best Racing's readers inside the jockeys' room in 2014. Stevens and Sutherland-Kruse will provide answers to all sorts of questions such as how jockeys get paid, what goes on between races, whom they admire and what type of music and fashion style they favor.
In this edition of Inside the Jockeys' Room we learn a little more about how Sutherland-Kruse became a jockey and she also tells us the best advice she's ever received.
Jim Wilson is a horseman. He grew up in Pasadena, Calif. and started going to the races at Santa Anita at a very young age. He bought his first horse as soon as he could afford one and over the past 25 years has owned more than a hundred winners; although none of them has won a stakes race.