As restrictions in horse racing lift across the country, it is starting to feel a little more normal on the weekends with racing taking place across the country. This weekend we'll look at Santa Anita, where the social distancing was in effect for interviews six feet apart, RunHappy advertised on the masks of the interviewers and jockeys living like movie stars in RVs.
$196,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2)
The stakes races of the day kicked off in race 5 starting with the $196,000 Santa Anita Oaks with a small field of just four horses. SWISS SKYDIVER went to the lead from the one spot ahead of MERNEITH and SPEECH. The filly ticked off fractions of :22.92 amnd :46.55 under Mike Smith. At the top of the lane, she opened up her lead by three furlongs while SPEECH made her move, but just didn't have enough left to catch SWISS SKYDIVER, who took the win with a final time of 1:43.20. SPEECH held on to second and MERNEITH finished third. SWISS SKYDIVER earned herself 100 points to the Kentucky Oaks and is currently at the top of the leaderboard with 310.
$401,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1)
With the strange year it had been, we'd normally been watching this Kentucky Derby prep race back in April, but here we are in early June with the Belmont later this month and the Kentucky Derby scheduled for September. This year, however, things are quite different. Heading into the race, AUTHENTIC was the 1-2 favorite for Bob Baffert, who was looking for his 10th win in the Santa Anita Derby. AUTHENTIC broke odd from the outside post 7, moving towards the outside of the field rather towards the lead, meaning he would be caught wide on both turns. SHOOTERS SHOOT and ANNEAU D'OR went to the lead and set a half mile time of :46.88. AUTHENTIC battled to the front at the turn for home but drifted, allowing HONOR A. P. to make a move past him, closing from fifth and taking the win. AUTHENTIC did manage to hold on to second with RUSHIE finishing in third.
The win was HONOR A. P.'S second victory in four starts. The ridgling picked up 100 points for the Kentucky Derby. AUTHENTIC picked up another 40, putting his total at 100.
$300,500 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1)
Breaking a step slow, IMPROBABLE rated just off the longshot pacesetter BROWN STORM, who set easy fractions of :23.24 and :47.57. Pressing, IMPROBABLE drew off to the lead and surged to a three and a quarter length victory over HIGHER POWER. The pair were the only grade one winners in the field of six. TENFOLD rallied to take third over BROWN STORM who finished fourth with MIDCOURT and PARSIMONY following.
Last year was tough for the Baffert trainee who managed to pull out a couple of major stakes wins last year, but fell short and out of the money in the Derby and Preakness, despite being favored in both. The winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup in previous years has gone on to take the win in the Breeders' Cup Classic with VINO ROSSO in 2019 and ACCELERATE in 2018. Perhaps we'll see him on that stage in the future. This was also the first Hollywood Gold Cup victory for jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
$200,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G2)
On Sunday, Santa Anita hosted the Triple Bend Stakes where MCKINZIE would break from the outside post as the 1-2 favorite. He was held back in the field of five as AX MAN led the way, setting fractions of :23.59 and :46.13. FASHIONABLY FAST settled in second behind him. At the turn for home, MCKINZIE went three wide to make his bid and moved to the front of the field with ease. FASHIONABLY FAST fought hard but MCKINZIE was able to pull ahead and take the win by one and a half lengths with a final time of 1:22.56. FASHIONABLY FAST held onto second by a neck over DARK VADER.