This sensational Saturday, March 5th started with the opening of the new Metro Gold Line light rail service through Arcadia, and usage of Santa Anita Park‘s shuttle service from the train station to the track began soon after.
Carrie Lynn Barker
A lot of folks chatted about how convenient it was to get from the adjacent Arcadia Transit Plaza to the track, and track employees expressed their hope that this will build attendance on a daily basis. This event caused me to miss the first race but the rest of the day held excitement enough to keep me highly entertained.
Rafael Bejarano celebrates on Fans On The Run
Fans On The Run and jockey Rafael Bejarano came out of the gate at an angle, as did rival Dramatic Angel and Martin Garcia. But while Dramatic Angel had nothing left in the stretch, Fans On The Run pulled away to win over Timber King and Fernando Perez. Bejarano also won in the Second on gray, London Legacy, who had a saddle malfunction before the race, though this did not deter the four-year-old.
Rafael Bejarano and London Legacy win
Mike Smith took favorite Two Taps out three wide in the stretch and nipped away at the leaders to win over Sheer Pleasure and Flavien Prat in the Sixth. Gary Stevens on Ohio, a Brazilian import who has also won in Argentina, cleared away after running on the lead and holding off rivals multiple times, taking the Seventh. The five-year-old Ohio refused to let anyone pass him for too long and looked quite impressive, though he was very riled up in the walking ring prior to the race.
Ohio on his toes
Heavy favorite Seattle Serenade, under veteran jockey, Mike Smith, pulled up on the back stretch, leaving the Eighth race open to just about anyone. Songforjohnmichael, a 21-to-1 longshot, took a little urging from Joseph Talamo but won late over Souper Knight and Rafael Bejerano. Word from a steward was Seattle Serenade may have had a tack issue however he was vanned off so it’s uncertain what actually occurred.
Lucky Shoes To Win was true to his name. Though he broke slowly and was four wide in the turn, luck held out and Santiago Gonzalez urged him on to win over favorite, Zim N The Mailman, with jockey Edwin Maldonado on board.
Mike Smith and Songbird
But of course, all eyes were on Fox Hill Farms’ Songbird in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (Grade III), the Fifth race of the day. Mike Smith had the ride on the three-year-old filly once again, and it was Songbird all the way. She went off as a 1/9 favorite, odds not seen since Zenyatta after her rousing victory in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, where she beat the pants off the boys. Songbird took the early lead and held onto it effortlessly, as she always does, with Land Over Sea and Mario Gutierrez once again finding themselves in her wake.
A bird On Chris McCarron’s statue
Songbird is certainly a fan favorite, much in the line of Zenyatta and Beholder, and seems to be following closely in their footsteps. Crowds gathered in one area to watch her being saddled then booked it to the walking ring and were two deep for the “riders’ up” call. Many fans were waiting for Mike Smith’s return to get his autograph after the race, just like they did for Zenyatta. However, most left afterwards and the track went back to a calm Saturday afternoon. Songbird is now six-for-six and her next start will most likely be the April 9th Santa Anita Oaks before she ships out to Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks. I’m no psychic, but I see a Filly Triple Crown in her future.
— 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). 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.