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Opening weekend; Nyquist prevails

The first Saturday in May always proves to be the most exciting in horse racing.


Carrie Lynn Barker

Louisville, KY, Churchill Downs in particular, plays host to the Kentucky Derby, and this year was the 142nd running of the “greatest two minutes in sports.” This is true, of course. However, we at Santa Anita Park had hours of horse racing occurring before the Run for the Roses.

The first race was unique in that all but three horses scratched; Rosarita, Seattle Salt and Shy Carmelita broke from the gate as one but the race was quickly whittled down to two when Seattle Salt pulled up. Rosarita and Edwin Maldonado raced to the wire alongside Shy Carmelita, with Martin Garcia aboard, but Shy Carmelita took the lead and held it to win clear.

Boy Howdy and Joseph Talamo held over favorite Tengas Ransom to win the Second.

Carrie5-7-16Shy Carmelita and Martin Garcia hit the wire

Shy Carmelita and Martin Garcia hit the wire

The Third played almost like the First, with a three-horse field. Santiago Gonzalez and Mr. Opportunist drifted out in the stretch but kept the lead over Eric the Trojan and jockey Joseph Talamo. Boldly True, under Martin Garcia, weakened to finished third.

Late ‘n Left pulled off an upset at 15 to 1, with Stewart Elliott aboard, in the Fourth.

Carrie5-7-16Story to Tell with Fernando Perez win the 5th

Story to Tell with Fernando Perez win the Fifth

In the Fifth, Story to Tell and Fernando Perez ran clear of the field in the stretch, while Limited Response and Santiago Gonzalez held for the place.

The Sixth race — just prior to the big event in Kentucky — saw Macro Access and Tiago Pereira, the clear favorite in the betting field, hit the wire under urging, leaving Te Rapa to take the place.

Then the crowd sat in wait, all eyes focused on the big screen, eager and ready to once again see one of their SoCal and Santa Anita horses win the Derby. There was no disappointment when Nyquist, running easy behind pace setter Danzing Candy, responded to Mario Gutierrez, as he always does, and headed for the lead. Mario rode the colt beautifully, being patient as Danzing Candy wore himself out and dropped back.

Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby - photo courtesy of Santa Anita Park

Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby – photo courtesy of Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator, trainer J. Keith Desormeaux’s first Derby horse, made a late charge under jockey Kent Desormeaux but nobody was beating Nyquist this day. Santa Anita-based Nyquist became the fourth Southern California or Santa Anita-based Kentucky Derby winner in the last five years.

I’ll just say I called it and leave it at that. I have faith in Nyquist, having watched him run multiple times, and this horse, named for a hockey player, has the speed, the stamina and the guts to win the Triple Crown. We’ll just have to wait two weeks to see if he comes out of the Derby ready for the next leg, the Preakness.

Carrie5-7-16Princess Kendra2c Martin Pedroza after win in the 7th

Princess Kendra and Martin Pedroza after win in the Seventh

Back to Santa Anita, Princess Kendra and jockey Martin Pedroza went wide but caught Seaquet and Stewart Elliott to get the win in the Seventh.

Zim N The Mailman, with Edwin Maldonado aboard, went off as the favorite in the Eighth, but it was the second- and third-place horses, Lamu and Italian Mirage, who raised eyebrows. Lamu went off at over 30-to-1, while Italian Mirage had odds of 75-to-1. The resulting trifecta paid $451.70.

Carrie5-7-16Out of the gate in the 8th

Out of the gate in the Eighth

Racing continued in the Ninth, the Senorita Stakes (Grace III) on the turf, with Stays in Vegas and Alex Solis in a hard fight for first, winning over Be Mine, with Tyler Baze aboard.

The 10th saw another longshot in Supreme Venture take first, giving Edwin Maldonado yet another win on the day. I set off for the parking lot and listened to the 11th and final race from the car, as Amboseli won with Joseph Talamo aboard. It was late, almost 6:30 pm, and the cops had blocked my route home so I knew I would have to detour.

Carrie5-7-16A horse laugh

A horse laugh

All in all, an exciting race day, and glad I could make some random drunk guy’s day as I left. He was way too happy to have met a ‘goth chick,’ which I am not, but I let him have his victory and did not correct. I will leave you with the expression on the face of a gray horse who was training between races. I didn’t hear the joke but it must have been a good one! My expression might have been somewhat the same as the drunk ran off to tell his buddies about his incredibly brief encounter with me.

— By Carrie Lynn Barker, who shares her thoughts, observations and photos of the horse-related activities from her near-weekly visits to Santa Anita Park on Saturdays during racing season (all photos by Carrie). You can view Carrie’s photos at her website CLB Photography: Life behind the Lens ( Carrie is a photographer who lives in Monrovia with her screenwriter husband Brandon and is Chief Member Concierge at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce. Carrie has written seven stories published as ebooks and has produced several films. She has also been Operation Manager of Barfly Staff Monitoring Services since 2010.


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