Santa Anita's winter meet, dubbed the 'Classic Race Meeting,' will open on its traditional Dec. 26 date with a new minimum stakes purse of $100,000 for both dirt and turf black-type events. In addition, allowance races will get a boost, with all open allowances set at $85,000 and first- through third-condition allowances run for purses ranging from $72,000 to $76,000. It is the largest purse structure in Santa Anita's 88-year history.
“There's no denying that expenses are up, across the board, in all facets of our economy,” said Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz. “Along with the TOC [Thoroughbred Owners of California], without whose assistance these changes wouldn't be possible, we're hopeful these purse increases will assist owners and trainers who are paying the bills on the athletes that put on the show. Additionally, we want horsemen to know that all allowance races will now include a 'state-bred' provision which means any horse that has won a state-bred race anywhere in the country is still eligible for a $72,000 first-condition allowance here at Santa Anita.”
Santa Anita's downhill Camino Real, turf chute, and turf oval are all ready for the meet. “Our turf is in tremendous condition,” said Merz. “With our downhill and turf chute components, we are pleased to offer the betting public and fans alike a cornucopia of turf racing options.”
Six graded races are carded for opening day, including the GI Runhappy Malibu S., the GI La Brea S., and the GI American Oaks. GI Breeders' Cup Classic third Taiba (Gun Runner) will seek his third Grade I win of the year in the Malibu.
“We feel he has a lot of improvement left in him,” said Gary Young, racing manager for owner Amr Zedan. “We have a lot of confidence in this horse. The Malibu provides a good bridge between the Breeders' Cup and next year's Saudi Cup.”
Entries for opening day will be taken Dec. 21. First post is at 11 a.m.