As the spring meet nears its end for the 2016 calendar year, Santa Anita still has not run out of excitement and racing fun. Though the KROQ Brewfest raged in the Infield and it was hot outside, fans still gathered in the grandstands to watch the horses run. Being that it was Gold Cup day, the connections of the Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist thought it would be fun to have him run an afternoon workout just prior to the races.
Nyquist logged a five-furlong work in 1:02:07 with his regular jockey, Mario Gutierrez on board, which trainer, Doug O’Neill called, “…good leg stretch.” No decision has been made yet on what race Nyquist is heading for. The ultimate goal though is the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November. The Santa Anita crowd loves their horses and showed up early just to see him work.
After the Derby winner’s work, Saturday’s race card began with a longshot taking the 1st. Flaming Vixen and Rafael Bejarano, at nearly 8 to 1, rallied in the stretch and fought to hold the win over hard running Christy Jackson and Cesar Salcedo. In the 2nd, Adios Princess, with Chad Lindsay aboard, inched away and held the win over favorite, Angel Lane and Rafael Bejarano.
Favorites went back and forth prior to the start in the 3rd, with Basinca going off as the favorite as post time, but previous favorite, Schillairess and Fernando Perez took the lead in the stretch and drew away to hit the wire alone. Basinca and jockey, Mario Gutierrez finished second.
The gray, Silver Assault and Martin Garcia also cleared the field to win the 4th, and Who’s Out, with Mike Smith aboard and under a hand ride, held off rivals Jazzy Times and Forest Blue in the 5th. Mike Smith made it back-to-back wins as favorite, Taman Guard also drew away to win the 6th.
Supervisor sent fans scrambling as he acted up in the paddock and swerved off the walking path into the grass, but the 7th race gave Rafael Bejarano his second win on the day, as Westfest also ran away from the pack and hit the wire alone. Favorite, Giant Expectations was off slow and finished fourth, while two longshots completed the trifecta. Curlin Road at 22 to 1 and Oso at odds of 55 to 1 with the winner paid $541.90. The overly-excited Supervisor finished seventh.
The 8th race was one of two stakes races on the card, the Triple Bend (Grade II). High hopes were given for Kobe’s Back, the son of Flatter nicknamed the ‘Gray Ghost.’ However, jockey, Gary Stevens may have jinxed himself when stating that his horse needed to break with the pack, as Kobe’s Back missed the start and didn’t have the needed rally to beat the winner, Lord Nelson and jockey, Rafael Bejarano. Subtle Indian, with Mike Smith aboard, nearly caught Lord Nelson but the Bob Baffert trainee prevailed.
The 9th and final race was the feature of the day, The Gold Cup at Santa Anita (Grade I), which was classified as a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, meaning the winner received an automatic berth in the race in November. Favorite Melatonin did not disappoint. With jockey, Joseph Talamo on board, the five-year-old Kodiak Kowboy gelding hit the wire alone, leaving his competition in the dust. Longshot Win the Space and Gary Stevens placed, with Hard Aces and Santiago Gonzalez getting the show. Melatonin will hopefully take his rightful place alongside the greats in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but who knows if he will be up to the challenge, as it seems some very good looking horses are aiming for that race as well, including the amazing California Chrome. The answer will come in November!