Santa Anita Park Opening Day Set For Monday, Dec. 26

Written By Andrew Champagne on December 21, 2022
Santa Anita Park scenic

The day after Christmas is a big one for horse racing fans. Every year, Santa Anita Park, just outside Los Angeles, opens its winter/spring meet on Dec. 26.

The California horse racing mainstay boasts a power-packed Opening Day program. The slate includes six graded stakes races, three of the Grade 1 variety.

Taiba likely to be favored in the Malibu

One of the top 3-year-old male horses in the country, Taiba will go for his third Grade 1 win of the 2022 season Monday afternoon. He’ll cut back to seven furlongs in the Malibu Stakes, a race trainer Bob Baffert has won four times since 2011.

Taiba did not run as a 2-year-old, but was impressive enough in his debut victory to earn a spot in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, which he won. After a misfire in the Kentucky Derby, he returned to win the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby before running third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

A son of Gun Runner, Taiba is owned by Zedan Racing Stables, which is run by Saudi Arabia businessman and philanthropist Amr Zedan. If Taiba runs well Monday, it would not be a surprise to see the horse’s connections target the $20 million Saudi Cup. That’s scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25.

Other Opening Day stakes races and highlights

3-year-old fillies take center stage in the other two Grade 1 races on the card. The La Brea is the Malibu’s sister race, and is also run at seven furlongs on the main track. The American Oaks, meanwhile, will feature females going 1 1/4 miles on the turf course.

The program also features a trio of Grade 2 events. The Mathis Mile is for 3-year-old turf runners, while the San Antonio on dirt and San Gabriel on turf are spots for older horses.

Santa Anita’s gates open at 9 a.m. Monday, and there are plenty of other reasons to head to the track. Of note, craft beer and whiskey festivals are scheduled for the day, and a mural will be unveiled honoring the undefeated Flightline. The thoroughbred’s 6-for-6 lifetime mark included two wins at “the great race place,” as well as a romp in last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

More on the winter/spring meet at Santa Anita

Action continues at Santa Anita through mid-June. The meet includes a total of 93 stakes races, 58 of them graded.

Big days include the Santa Anita Derby card on Saturday, April 8, and a program highlighted by the Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday, March 4. Santa Anita’s Memorial Day slate on Monday, May 29, also includes three Grade 1 races worth a total of $1.3 million.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate on race day. If you can’t make it to Santa Anita, you can watch and wager on the action through advance deposit wagering platforms. Apps such as TVG allow horseplayers one-stop shops for betting, analysis and live video.

Photo by AP Photo / Amanda Lee Myers
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Andrew Champagne

Andrew Champagne is a Content Manager at Catena Media, as well as an award-winning writer and producer. A passionate storyteller, Andrew boasts a career that has included stints at The Daily Racing Form, TVG Network, and HRTV. Born and raised in upstate New York, Andrew now resides in Northern California's Bay Area. You can often find him handicapping horse races, planning his next trip to Las Vegas, bowling reasonably well, and golfing incredibly poorly.

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