Santa Anita Handicap

Santa Anita Handicap Horse RaceThe Santa Anita Handicap is a Grade I race held over a mile and a quarter at Santa Anita Park in California. It is for horses aged four and upwards and is regarded as the most significant race for older horses in America during the winter season. The Santa Anita Handicap has prize money of $750,000 and dates back to 1935.

Three-year-olds were allowed to take part until 1969. In its early days, the prize money of $100,000, was a huge amount for a horse race, especially a handicap. Even today, the race is still known as “The Big ‘Cap”. The most famous horse to compete in the race was undoubtedly Seabiscuit. He was famously beaten in 1937 and 1938, both in photo finishes. On the second occasion he was attempting to concede 30lbs to Kayak II. His career looked to be over following an injury whilst preparing for the 1939 race but he returned to win it the following year in what turned out to be his very last race.

So now we will have a closer look at some past winners and also predictions for future events from and its experts.

The Winners

Apart from the great Seabiscuit, there have been many top class winners of this event. Triple Crown winner Affirmed won the race in 1979 and was followed by Spectacular Bid (1980). John Henry won the race in 1981 and 1982.

Greinton was successful in 1986 and other popular winners include Alysheba (1988), Best Pal (1992) and Tiznow (2001). Alysheba won two legs of the Triple Crown in 1987. In the Derby, he recovered from a hefty bump from Bet Twice to win and then followed up in the Preakness. In the Belmont, Alysheba had to race without the medication Lasix and could finish only fourth behind Bet Twice.

Tiznow is currently the only horse to have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice. In 2000 he battled to a game victory over “The Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway and a field that also included Fusaichi Pegasus and Lemon Drop Kid. The following year he beat Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee. He was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

The 1995 winner Urgent Request started his career in Britain for Lambourn trainer Barry Hills before winning a Group 3 for Reg Akehurst. He won the Santa Anita Handicap by a head from Best Pal in 1995, denying that horse a second victory in the race. It was the only win in ten races in America for Urgent Request.

Lava Man was a prolific winner and he became the first horse since Affirmed (1979) to win the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup in the same year. Lava Man recorded a 3/4 length victory over Magnum who was in receipt of 7lbs.

The Records

The fastest time in the race was set by Affirmed in 1979 at 1:58.60. Four horses have won the race twice; John Henry (1981, 1982), Milwaukee Brew (2002, 2003), Lava Man (2006, 2007) and Game On Dude (2011, 2013). Willie Shoemaker won the race a remarkable eleven times as a jockey between 1954 and 1985. Charlie Whittingham trained the winner eight times and Charles Howard was the winning-most owner with three victories (1939, 1940, 1950).

Santa Anita Handicap 2013

The 2013 race took place on 2nd March and was won by Game On Dude for trainer Bob Baffert, beating Clubhouse Ride and Called To Serve. He was sent off the well backed 6-5 favourite and made all the running to win by a record 7 ¾ lengths under Mike Smith. It was a fourth Big ‘Cap win for Baffert and a first for Smith. Clubhouse Ride ran a great race for a 27-1 shot under Rafael Bejarano, holding off Called To Serve (4-1) by a nose. Game on Dude is widely regarded as the best handicap horse in training in America at the present time.

Santa Anita Handicap 2014

More information to come shortly.

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