Santa Anita Diaries, Day 2
It was another beautiful morning when I got to Santa Anita Park today for Super Saturday, and the day started out with a bang at the ABR Fan Hub. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning duo of trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez held an autograph signing session with us, and tons of fans lined up to get hats, posters and more signed.
People even brought in plaques with I’ll Have Another’s shoes on them to get signed – that was pretty cool!
After that, it was off to see the unveiling of the Zenyatta statue. There was a huge crowd of fans on hand, and chants of Zenyatta’s name filled the air.
Zenyatta’s owners Jerry and Ann Moss were there as well, and they looked so happy and proud of their champion mare.
Sculptor Nina Kaiser, creator of the Zenyatta statue, was here as well, and looked very happy with the crowd’s reaction to her work.
Then it was time for the unveiling of the sculpture. When the blanket came off, there was a huge amount of applause, which was well deserved, as the photos don’t do this sculpture justice. It’s really beautiful and amazingly detailed.
After the unveiling, I wandered on over to the infield, where there was a food truck rally going on. As anyone who works in my office will attest, I freaking LOVE food trucks. They are my jam. More food trucks forever, please. So you can imagine my little-kid-on-Christmas-morning reaction as I checked out the vast selection in front of me. I was in heaven. The waistband of my pants was about to be in hell.
There were also all sorts of activities for kids in the infield, too, from those cool inflatable bouncy slide thing that were never around often enough in my childhood to a pumpkin patch and lots of other fun options. I think it’s really great how so many tracks are making their facilities as family friendly as possible.
After that, it was time to take in the racing action as I waited for the graded stakes to begin. I know I brought this up yesterday, but Santa Anita really is so beautiful, and the fans here are very into the scene!
The first stakes race of the day was the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes, which was dominated by Executiveprivilege, whose owners said that they’d definitely be back for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Up next it was the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes for 2-year-olds. Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Rafael Bejarano teamed up to grab their second Grade I win of the afternoon.
Awesomely, between the 7th and 8th races, the USC marching band performed in the winner’s circle. They were so good, and who doesn’t like a marching band?
Then it was time for the first running of the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes. It seemed so fitting to me that a big, dark bay mare with a white blaze named Love and Pride won – a great tribute to one of the most amazing mares I can remember seeing in my lifetime.
The Grade 1 Rodeo Drive was the next Grade 1 on Santa Anita’s Super Saturday, and favorite Marketing Mix didn’t disappoint her supporters, wining with ease for owner Glen Hill Farm and jockey Garrett Gomez.
Then it was time for the main event – the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes. This race feeds directly into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and I was really looking forward to seeing whether or not heavy favorite Game On Dude could take it. As he stepped onto the racetrack to warm up, I could see that new jockey Rafael Bejarano was clearly confident in his horse, and that the Dude himself looked at ease and ready to go.
At the end of the day, victory went to Game On Dude, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him back here again in November for the Breeders’ Cup – the Classic is shaping up to be a great race!
That’s all for tonight, and thanks for checking in! I’m heading back to New York tomorrow, and then I’ll be covering Fall Stars weekend at Keeneland next Saturday. Hope you’ll join me for another diary then!