The grandstands at Santa Anita Park, which had been roaring with cheers, went silent.
Once Nyquist swerved out in the stretch to go around Exaggerator in the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on Saturday, I knew it was over. There would be no Triple Crown for the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Exaggerator had the edge at that moment and finally bested his rival.
A sad hush fell over the rest of the day at Santa Anita when all should have been joyous that another of our California colts had taken such a big race. It just wasn’t the right colt… A high and mighty congrats go to trainer, J. Keith Desormeaux and jockey, Kent Desormeaux, and I already hear tell that Nyquist and Exaggerator will have their showdown again in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 11. Looking forward to it!
But back home at Santa Anita, there was plenty of rousing horse racing, perhaps some more exciting than even the Preakness, at least in the eyes of Iggy Puglisi.
Hijiki and Flavien Prat prevailed in the First on the downhill turf course.
Then, the gorgeous gray Ladies Man upset the Second under jockey Brayan Pena at odds of 9-to-1.
The obvious choice came home in easy fashion in the Third, with the talented three year-old gelding Navy Hymn showing his stuff under Ramon Vazquez. Navy Hymn was claimed in this race and will go to trainer Richard Baltas. Curious to see how this match-up turns out and want to see more from this son of Songandaprayer.
The ‘holy cow’ moment came in the Fourth when Iggy Puglisi and Proficiently came from dead last in the field with a late charge to take the win. This was Proficiently’s debut race and she went off at odd of almost 60-to-1. Iggy Puglisi’s celebration aboard her back as they made their way to the winner’s circle was the definite highlight of the day. Proficiently paid $121.00 to win, and afterwards Iggy gladly posed for pictures.
Minister’sadventures and Martin Garcia led clear late to win the Fifth, the Watermelon King Cup, with favorite Desert Madam running fourth and being claimed to go to trainer William Spawr.
The Sixth race saw the heavy favorite, Pioneerof the West and jockey Giuseppe Ercegovic, take the lead in the stretch and hold it after being three-wide at the turn. Everybody loves a Pioneerof the Nile horse since American Pharoah’s 2015 Triple Crown Win, so expect to see more from this colt. Both Melville and Bronzino bobbled at the start of the Sixth with Meville getting his nose in the dirt but both seemed to come out okay.
Seve’s Road and Tyler Baze prevailed in the Seventh.
Odds-on favorite Coppa took the Eighth under jockey Joseph Talamo for a very clear win.
In the feature of the day, the Kona Gold Stakes (Grade II), Wild Dude and Rafael Bejarano hugged the rail and came home first over favorite, Subtle Indian and Ramon Vazquez.
The 10th race, the Mizdirection Stakes, saw So Sweetitiz pull an upset at 7-to-1, with Mike Smith aboard. Favorite Swift Lady and Rafael Bejarano held for third, with Miss Double d’Oro and Santiago Gonzalez taking the Place.
In the last and final race of the day, heavy favorite, Spirit World did not disappoint, with jockey, Tyler Baze aboard.
It was a challenging day full of upsets and losses, but none so great as the loss of San Onofre, who broke down in the Kona Gold Stakes and was euthanized. There will always be another year for a Triple Crown winner, but his death is a tragic one that should be overshadowed. My heart goes out to the connections of San Onofre. He provided many exciting moments in this world of racing and I’m glad I was able to photograph him.
— 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 (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.