A full day of racing was seen on Memorial Day Monday at Santa Anita Park. However, there was only one stakes race out of the ten run.
As a carnival went on in the infield, a small crowd placed their bets from the grandstands. It was decently quiet all around but the jockeys and horses still managed to put on a good show.
Race One saw early favorite Malware easily defeated as Plane Lucky and Rafael Bejarano drew away in the stretch to win over Briartic Gal and Santiago Gonzalez. Malware and Mario Gutierrez held for third.
Rafael Bejarano made it two-for-two when he rode the winner of the Second, favorite He Will.
Favorites fluctuated for the Third but Drefong came out ahead, inching away then running clear under a hand ride from Mike Smith, with Forest Blue and Victor Espinoza taking the Place. Post-time favorite Rocket Fuel was a well-beaten fifth.
Another post-time favorite got beat in the Fourth, with Signature Cat and Santiago Gonzalez just getting the lead over Stormin Eagle and jockey Stewart Elliott.
An interesting turn in the Fifth saw Drover Crazy declared a non-starter after breaking through the gate a split second too soon then getting away slowly. This, however, did not affect the order of finish as Long Hot Summer and Joseph Talamo took the win over a strong-closing Texas Two Step with Santiago Gonzalez aboard. Bettors did have to sit through a few minutes’ worth of an inquiry to decide on the start of Drover Crazy.
Though Thanksgiving Day was noted as a 10-to-1 shot in the morning line for Race Six, the horse was the third choice of the bettors going to post. The bay gelding by Thewayyouare, out of Cozzene’s Pride, was the clear winner under jockey Agapito Delgadillo. Favorite Jonny’s Choice and Chad Lindsay kept the place.
Race Seven was interesting in that the exacta for the first and second place finishers paid over $400. Awesome Encounter and Brandon Boulanger went off at 14-to-1 then rallied at the finish over 26-to-1 shot Aidan’s Hope and jockey Cassidy Clerisse.
Favorite Soap Box, under Edwin Maldonado came in third, and the trifecta paid $1376. Quite the finish but I did not have a dollar on any of the top three.
The eighth-place finisher in this race, while not impressive on the track, caused some excitement in the walking ring as he kicked his heels high into the air. This was Stormin Forest and he put on quite a show.
The feature race, the Gamely Stakes (Grade II) saw French invader Wekeela and jockey Javier Castellano finishing second to Illuminant and Flavien Prat.
Rafael Bejarano won yet another race as he took the Ninth on Karma King, with favorite Story to Tell finishing second.
The last race on the 10-race card was won by El Super, giving Flavien Prat his second win on the day.
Stellar Wind was spied schooling in the paddock in preparation for her duel against Beholder in next Saturday’s Vanity Stakes. Beholder has been seen working on the track in the morning and looks strong.
A brief chat with Doug O’Neill let us know that Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist was in good shape and ready to go for a summer start, though he was not sure what race they’d point him towards.
It was a lovely Memorial Day, enjoyed by all, and I was glad to be able to spend it at the track. I felt I was honoring my grandfather’s memory by enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, watching horse racing. Mayo C. Humphrey passed away in 1996. He enlisted in the army in World War II because he knew in his heart that it was the right thing to do and he would not let rejection keep him down. He tried to join multiple times, each time being denied due to poor eyesight. He kept trying until they finally said yes, and every Memorial Day reminds me of his determination and strength. He never failed to call me on Kentucky Derby Day to make sure I was watching. So, thanks Grandpa for introducing me to this world of racing that I love so much.
— 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 and this blog at her website CLB Photography: Life behind the Lens (clbphotography.org).
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.