What To Know About Final Weekend Of Santa Anita Park’s Spring Meet

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 15, 2023
Santa Anita Park spring meet final weekend preview, from playca.com

It’s here already.

Closing day dawns on Sunday, capping what has been an excellent Santa Anita Park spring meet in Arcadia.

There’s one more interesting weekend of live racing greeting California horse race betting enthusiasts. They can access the action at the track or via all the appropriate apps.

Gamblers can also mark their calendars, as Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress will pick up the baton, starting its nine-day meet next Friday, June 23.

Here’s an overview of the final three days at Santa Anita.

Weekend overview at Santa Anita Park


The 10-race card starts at 1 p.m. There are several races in the $60,000 purse range and a $100,000 allowance optional-claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs highlights the card.


A 12-race package with three events of $100,000 or more, including the Fasig-Tipton Futurity and Fasig-Tipton Debutante stakes events.


The San Juan Capistrano Stakes is for $100,000.

This has a unique distance of 1 3/4 miles, one of the longest graded turf races in the US.

This is a special treat at Santa Anita. The race is half a mile longer than the Kentucky Derby and the winning time last year was 2:47.32.

Horses gallop nearly twice around the Santa Anita surface.

And when it was all said and done last year, a pack of horses surged to the wire in a photo finish. It was won by Breakpoint at 9-1.

The Possibly Perfect Stakes is for $100,000, at 1 1/4 miles.

Horse named after Santa Anita track announcer running Saturday

Here, in the shadows of Hollywood, is a development fit for the movies.

Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi will call a race that includes a horse named after him.

Yes, a first-timer named Mirahmadi will be part of the Fasig-Tipton feature on Saturday.

It’s hard to think of another situation in which an announcer called the race involving his namesake.

“I am very excited to call Mirahmadi on Saturday,” said the voice of Santa Anita, who will also taking the reins for the first time next month as full-time announcer at Saratoga Race Course, according to BloodHorse. “His works have been exceptional and the fact he is debuting in a stakes race confirms what anyone who has watched XBTV knows — this colt can run!

“I am very thankful to Tom Ryan and the ownership group for naming such a nice colt after me. I take pride in being unbiased in my race calls, but on Saturday I hope Mirahmadi’s white face is in front early and then he improves his position.”

Bettors may even  get a chuckle if the announcer gets caught in the moment and says something like, “And here I go down the lane,” if Mirahmadi runs well.

Mirahmadi, a first-time starter, has a strong series of six local works to his credit, including a 5-furlong bullet from the gate in 58.80 here on June 5 — best of 26 at the distance.

He gets the services of Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez. Mirahmadi breaks from the outside 6 post in the race.

Others getting attention:


Crushed fellow Cal-breds at first asking, rates second billing in Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Futurity. Off at 2-1 going 4 1/2 furlongs on May 21, he dueled for the early lead, had race favorite Last Call London to his outside turning for home and drew clear in a most impressive performance, winning by 4 1/2 lengths while earning a solid 96 Beyer Speed Figure.


Has the advantage of having two races and was most recently third, beaten 9 3/4 lengths, in an ungraded stakes going 5 furlongs on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Tranche was also well-beaten seventh after breaking a step slow in his 4 1/2 furlong maiden debut April 7 at Keeneland and will thus be making his third start at as many different tracks on Saturday.

Going Mobile

Was an impressive first-out maiden winner as he sped to a 4 1/2-length win as the 6-5 favorite going 4 1/2 furlongs April 30.

Harry Houdini and the Next Level round out the field.

Leading trainers, jockeys

Here’s who the betting public will be looking at for the final weekend of action.

Phil D ’Amato has a slim 14-13 lead over Doug O’Neill for the most amount of winners in the meet.

That will be a good battle down to the wire.

The jockeys race is over, as Juan Hernandez holds a commanding 13-victory lead over his nearest competitor, Ramon Vazquez.

But the public will find five jockeys who have surpassed $1 million earnings during the meet.

  1. Hernandez, $2,519,010
  2. Hector Isaac Berrios, $1,369, 108
  3. Vazquez, $1,254,514
  4. Tiago Pereira, $1,090,220
  5. Umberto Rispoli, $1,038,754

These jockeys will all be backed with confidence.

Salute to longshots last weekend at Santa Anita

One of the best Cinderella stories of the meet unfolded in the fifth race last Saturday.

We had the breeding grounds for a payout that we often point out, with a field of 14 on the turf in maiden company.

And did this one ever breed cha-ching.

McGregor Lake, a 63-1, first-time starter, broke dead last in the 6-furlong race. And when he made a move around the turn, the first-timer still had 12 horses to pass.

And pass them all he did, with a thunderous surge to get up.

He paid a whopping $128.80 to win, $47.40 to place and $24.80 to show. McGregor Lake also became a cash register.

He touched off a $946 exacta with second-place finisher Grazed, 7-2.

High Plains Drifter, 20-1, would have made actor Clint Eastwood proud (Eastwood starred in a movie by that name). He finished third and completed a $1 trifecta of $5,634.

Touchdown Kittle, 3-1, finished fourth and the $2 superfecta paid an incredible $58,469. That meant $29,235  for $1 and $2,923 for 10 cents.


On a day when several chalk horses did well, this race lit up the tote board.

Sunday featured a pair of reasonably good payouts, but nothing like Saturday.

Sauls Call struck gold in the fourth at 40-1, returning $86.20, 21.80 and $8.60 to respective win, place and show bettors. Forgiving Spirit was second at 4-5, completing a $213 exacta. Barely Functional was third at 5-1 and the $1 trifecta paid $598.

In Race 9, Irresistible Force prevailed at 13-1, with Hot Tea second at 7-1 and Sultry Kitten third at 8-1.

The exacta returned $169 and the $1 trifecta was worth $681.

Enjoy what’s in store this weekend.

It should be entertaining.

Photo by AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for PlayCA, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including PlayCA and California Casinos.

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