By Margaret Ransom
Santa Anita’s autumn racing season finally gets underway Friday (Sept. 25), a week later than originally scheduled due to the Bobcat Fire – the largest in Los Angeles County history – which created poor air quality and unsafe breathing conditions for humans and horses.
For days since the gates opened following the Del Mar meet, Santa Anita was either closed for training, or training hours were cut short to protect the animals and people stabled at the track.
Though the fire still rages, the smoke has pushed away from the Arcadia area and racing will go on. The opening-day card offers 10 races, several with full fields. The autumn season will be run over 16 days through Oct. 25 on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule, with racing on Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 12). First-race post time is 2:30 p.m. PT.
The $200,000 Eddie D Stakes (G2) – named for Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye — for 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on turf; and the $100,000 Chillingworth Stakes (G3) – named for longtime Oak Tree Racing Association official Sherwood Chillingworth – for fillies and mares 3 and up at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track, are co-featured on Friday.
Seven will head postward in the Chillingworth, which is the day’s sixth race, and the same number of runners were entered for the Eddie D, which has been carded as the seventh.
On Saturday, seven stakes will share the spotlight with five of them being Breeders’ Cup qualifying “Win & You’re In” events — the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) for 3-year-olds and up (Classic); the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares (Filly & Mare Turf); $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds (Juvenile); $200,000 Chandelier Stakes (G1) for 2-year-old fillies (Juvenile Fillies); and the $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes for 2-year-olds (Juvenile Turf Sprint).
The $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) and the $75,000 Unzip Me Stakes complete the stakes action on the Saturday card.
On Sunday, two additional Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races will be featured – the $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares (Distaff) and the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), for 3-year-olds and up (Sprint). Also set to be contested Sunday but with no Breeders’ Cup implications will be the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup (G3).
This year the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7.In addition to the standard wagering menu, including win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, daily doubles, rolling daily double, rolling pick 3, pick 4, pick 5 and pick 6, this season the track will offer the Golden Hour Late Pick 4.
The wager, which is a $1 minimum and carries a low takeout of 15%, will be comprised of the last two races at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate each racing day and will complement the successful “Golden Hour Late Double,” which was instituted by the two tracks this past winter. The “Golden Hour Late Pick 4” will begin with Santa Anita’s second-to-last race, then Golden Gate’s, then Santa Anita’s finale with the curtain-closer and Golden Gate completing the wager.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.