West meets East

Saturday, April 2 at Santa Anita Park, saw a BBQ fest in the infield that attracted most guests but made me miss the first race since they wouldn’t let me in my normal gate unless I paid in cash, which I did not have.


CarrieBarkerHeadshot

Carrie Lynn Barker


Instead, I had to trek across the entire park to the other entrance where they did take credit. As such, even upping my pace to a brisk jog, I barely made the end of the First. That opener started a string of heavy favorites winning, which continued through the remainder of the day.


Celebrity Status and Tyler Baze win race 5

Celebrity Status and Tyler Baze win race 5


Spicy Blonde and Brayan Pena edged away in the Second, then Celebrity Status and Tyler Baze simply clobbered the field in the Third, taking the lead on the second turn and never relinquishing it. Celebrity Status went off as an even money favorite.


Santana Mile winner Rafael Bejarano and Cat Burglar

Santana Mile winner Rafael Bejarano and Cat Burglar


The Fourth saw another even-money favorite take the win with Hobbits Hero and Rafael Bejarano inching away from Macro Access and Tiago Pereira.

Cat Burglar basically provided the same show in the Fifth, the Santana Mile, though was a bit out of sorts in the gate. Rafael Bejarano was also aboard the Unbridled Song horse as he took a short lead and held to win over Blue Tone and Kent Desormeaux. Cat Burglar too had odds of even money. This made for an early Pick 4 that paid about $19, the lowest Pick 4 total I have ever seen.


Rafael Bejarano congratulates Guns Loaded

Rafael Bejarano congratulates Guns Loaded


But it couldn’t last forever. Even favorite Gone with It was well beaten in the Sixth when Clude and jockey Flavien Prat fought hard on the rail to hold the lead over Captain Akers and Edwin Maldonado. Gone with It, with Tyler Baze aboard, finished a respectable third after being three-wide in the stretch run.

Guns Loaded produced another heavy favorite win in the San Simeon (Grade III) event on the hillside course, providing Rafael Bejarano with his third victory on the race card.


F Sixteen takes out his groom

F Sixteen takes out his groom


There was a little change in the pace, though, when 5-to-1 shot Lucky Shoes to Win took the eighth under Martin Pedroza. But, as this day proved, favorites are sometimes favorites for a reason when even-favorite Jazzie Cat trounced the field. This seemed to be Tyler Baze’s method of winning on this lovely Saturday, running away from the pack and making it look easy.

I was personally surprised when winner Opsec did not go off as the favorite in the 10th, as he definitely deserved to do so. He moved down in class and was running a shorter race than his last time out, which qualified him to do well at this mile distance. Though Opsec broke slowly, Abel Lezcano had him under control and rallied to win over Film Freak and Tyler Baze. Thess is Awesome and Travis Wales win race 11

The 11th was the big feature of the day. The Grade I HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes was solely for Arabian horses. The field was mostly grays, with two so perfectly matched, even in jockey silks, that announcer Michael Wrona couldn’t tell them apart. Four out of the 11 horses were by the same sire, TH Richie and had ‘rich’ incorporated into their names. The beautiful, finely-structured horses were a curiosity to some but a beauty to others.

Sorrel colored F Sixteen was almost a literal knockout in the paddock, sending his groom for a loop as he fought being saddled. But it was Thess is Awesome, a 45-to-1 long-shot, who lived up to his name as he took the immediate lead and held it under his jockey, Travis Wales, whose excitement was evident as he stood in the stirrups upon crossing the wire and shook his fist at the sky. The field was easily demolished by this brilliant horse.


Horse Hat Contestant

Horse Hat Contestant


And speaking of demolishing… on the east coast at Gulfstream in Florida, my predictions about our West Coast invader, Nyquist proved true when he refused to let anyone pass him in the Florida Derby. The long-awaited duel between Nyquist and Mohaymen was not to be, as Mohaymen seemed to have little to give, ending his five-race win streak by finishing fourth. Nyquist is now a perfect seven-for-seven, and I’ve loved this little guy since he broke his maiden back in June 2015 at Santa Anita. He’ll most likely be the Kentucky Derby favorite, and I have little doubt that, barring injury, Nyquist will show that West is best.

Oh, and there was a hat and fashion contest, but when you’re focused on the horses, most of that stuff goes unnoticed. Except for maybe the lady with the horse on her head…

— 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.

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