04/23/2014 1:48PM

Santa Anita set for first spring-summer meet

Barbara D. Livingston
A statue of John Henry overlooks the entrance to Santa Anita, which opens for its first spring-summer meet on Friday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – A new era begins at Santa Anita at 3 p.m. Pacific on Friday. The racetrack will launch its first spring-summer meeting, racing during dates previously held by Hollywood Park, which closed last December.

For fans of live racing at Santa Anita, the spring-summer meeting will mean more of the same. The track closed its winter-spring meeting only last Sunday and will race an additional 40 days through June 29. The two combined seasons are the longest stretch of live racing in the history of the 80-year-old venue.

Keeping the interest of racing fans – and avoiding venue fatigue – for the upcoming season is foremost on the mind of Tom Ludt, who took over as track president in March.

“It’s a challenge of marketing and creativity to get people to come to the track with six months in the same place,” he said.

To do so, Santa Anita has made some changes.

Post times on most Fridays will be 3 p.m., an effort to lure an audience ready to leave work early and get a head start on the weekend. Those programs are expected to end around 6:30 p.m. One exception will be May 2, when racing begins at 12:30 p.m. to accommodate the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks program from Churchill Downs.

On weekends, admission to the infield will be free, with track officials hoping to entice families and casual fans. To gain free admission to the infield, customers must enter via Gate 6, off Colorado Place.

“We want to get people out,” Ludt said. “The feedback has been great. We’ll see if that translates into people coming out. We want to create an environment. People started going to the races with their dads. It’s a long-term plan to get families coming out here – throw a towel down, have a picnic, and have fun.”

On the racetrack, the product will be largely unchanged from the winter-spring meeting. Jockeys Rafael Bejarano, Joe Talamo, and Tyler Baze and trainers Jerry Hollendorfer, John Sadler, and Bob Baffert are expected to top the standings in their respective divisions, as they did at the winter-spring meeting. Game On Dude, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in March, is a leading candidate in stakes for older horses.

Santa Anita will host live racing on the Triple Crown days of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, Preakness Stakes on May 17, and Belmont Stakes on June 7, afternoons expected to be the best attended of the season.

Many stakes from past Hollywood Park spring-summer meetings will be run during this meeting, some with different names.

The $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 28, the richest race of the meeting, was run as the Hollywood Gold Cup in past years. The American Oaks, Gamely Stakes, Shoemaker Mile, Vanity Stakes, and Charles Whittingham Stakes have kept the same names and conditions.

Six months of racing between late December and late June will take a toll on the turf course, but racing secretary Rick Hammerle expects no disruption to the turf racing program. He noted that the abbreviated schedule at the end of the winter-spring meet gave him a chance to rest the course.

“I feel confident that the turf course will be in excellent shape,” he said. “The break we’ve had has allowed us to do some maintenance.”

Friday’s first race is a maiden race for 2-year-old fillies over 4 1/2 furlongs. The meet’s 2-year-old program leads to two $125,000 stakes June 22, the Santa Anita Juvenile and the Landaluce.

For bettors, one significant change will be the resumption of $2 rolling doubles, beginning with the first race through the second-to-last race each day. Rolling doubles were not offered at the winter-spring meeting, replaced by three daily doubles per day with a reduced takeout of 18 percent.

For the spring-summer meeting, the rolling doubles will have an 18 percent takeout, down from 22.68 percent when last offered at the 2013 autumn meeting.

Kelly Greene More than 1 year ago
The one thing that SA needs or should change is the $2 pick-6, and make it similar to Gulfstream's Rainbow pick-6. How much excitement would a huge carryover generate in SoCal? Don't know why it's not being considered. But SA is a great product in a great location, and the additional racing dates are just an embarrassment of riches for the track.
Richard More than 1 year ago
The rainbow 6 is a fools bet! It keeps millions locked up for months on end. The only people who stand to benefit from that are the one person who takes it down and the track for the continued sky high takeout they get from idiots who chase a fools bet. The smart money waits on the sideline for a few select days. California is the home of the Pick 6 and the only place that can consistently generate a decent size pool. If you actually were a real bettor you would understand what a a waste the Rainbow 6 is.
gus stewart More than 1 year ago
lol really a real bettor! if you were a real bettor as you say I love Santa Anita but most quote real bettors I know cant play half of the race because of field size. And as far as the rainbow six, yea the take out is to high, but for the racing fan who does not have much of a chance winning a 2 dollar pix six, they still have a bettor chance on a 20 cent bet to get a substantial pay off even if they don't take down the only ticket
thomas j More than 1 year ago
GP's 20 cents pick 6 is a good bet because a handicapper can spread in some of the races, which they couldn't do with the regular 2.00 pick 6, and still get a decent payoff with the 20 cents. Those who bet serious money in the rainbow pick 6 use a lot of longshots on their tickets hoping to be the only winning ticket holder. Consequently, the payoff is decent even when logical horses win the 6 races. I play it as regular pick 6 without expecting to be the only winning ticket holder and I have gotten some decent payoffs for 20 cents.
Jerome Moynihan More than 1 year ago
opening the infield without admission will prove a catastrophe.will not attract families but will attract an element of a different nature. public relations people at S.A. are without a clue as to what to do with a great product.
Richard More than 1 year ago
Have you ever been to Santa Anita? It sits in the middle of one of the most affluent communities in So. Cal. The undesireables you mention are the bread and butter of most tracks these days, the guy with two nickels to rub together chasing the 10 cent superfecta. Which in case you have not been to SA, are the exact kind of people sitting downstairs in the satelite area. If you are the P.R. Genius of the DRF boards why don't you offer up some suggestions rather than your clueless post about what crowds SA will draw.
Jerome Moynihan More than 1 year ago
when you and the clowns who run the show at S.A. are proved wrong about free admissions, give me a call. I'll be happy to show you how to restore this marvelous venue back to it's glory days.
Ron Serandos More than 1 year ago
I heard that there is racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only until June when they will add Thursday or Monday and race 4 days. Is that correct? And I too would like to see the post times listed somewhere.
Thomas Brucks More than 1 year ago
That is not correct. Twilight racing begins Friday April 25 with first post at 3:00 PM. Racing will take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 1st thru June 29th. There is Monday racing on May 26 only. Pick up a current schedule from the Information window or booth at the track or your favorite satellite location.
Ed Gredvig More than 1 year ago
Went through whole website and still can't find what time first post is for Thursdays or weekends?
Thomas Brucks More than 1 year ago
Thursday post time is 1:00 PM beginning May 1, 2014. There are 9 Thursday racing days during the meet.