Two $150,000 stakes races will be run at Santa Anita Park Saturday, one day after racing was held for the first time in nearly two months.
Big Sweep, the lone filly in the field of nine, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the six-furlong Echo Eddie Stakes for California-bred or California-sired 3-year-olds.
“We nominated to both races (including the Evening Jewel) and to be honest, we looked at the noms for both of them and we just thought that maybe our best chance this time is against the boys,” trainer Mark Glatt said. “She’s obviously very talented and, hopefully, we chose the right option.”
Big Sweep will be making her second career start. She won by 2 1/4 lengths in her debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight race March 14 at Santa Anita.
Big Sweep will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who was aboard Country House when he won the 2019 Kentucky Derby via the disqualification of Maximum Security. Prat leads the meeting with 47 victories, including two on Friday.
The Echo Eddie Stakes will be run as the sixth race on the 10-race card with an approximate post time of 3:06 p.m.
The race is named for a gelding who won 10 races in 28 starts between 1999 and 2003, including the Sensational Star Handicap and Valiant Pete Handicap at Santa Anita in 2001, the Ken Maddy Handicap at Golden Gate Fields and the Dayjur Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2002.
Bulletproof One is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the six-furlong Evening Jewel Stakes for California-bred or California-sired 3-year-old fillies. She has won five of her 10 starts, including each of her last two, both in allowance-optional claiming races at Golden Gate Fields in March.
The Evening Jewel Stakes will be run as the eighth race with an approximate post time of 4:08 p.m. Its namesake won seven races in 19 starts from 2009-11, including two Grade 1 stakes in 2010, the Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and the Del Mar Oaks.
The Arcadia racetrack had been closed for racing since March 27 in accordance with orders from the health department in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The track announced Wednesday that it had been cleared by the county to resume racing.
All jockeys and employees are fitted with masks and color-coded bracelets, part of the health and safety protocols being observed in accordance with the Los Angeles County health department.
Other protocols include daily health screenings including temperature checks, mandatory “social distancing” while on the property, increased sanitation procedures, the creation of a “restricted zone” housing jockeys, valets and other essential personnel who must have a negative COVID-19 test to access, and pre-race protocol to increase physical distancing, according to Santa Anita officials.
Spectators are not permitted.
She’s So Special, the 7-2 favorite and the only filly in the 10-horse field, won the opening race on the nine-race card, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race for 3-year-olds on the turf course.
“It’s great to finally be back,” said Prat, who rode She’s So Special. “It’s been a rough time, but I’m glad we are back in business.”
Prat also rode Oh Marvelous Me to the victory in the sixth race, a six-furlong claiming race on the dirt track for 3-year-olds and up.
Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, rode Ellie Arroway to the victory in the fifth race, a one-mile allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares 3 years old and up on the turf course.
Mike Smith, the 54-year-old Hall of Famer who rode Justify to the 2018 Triple Crown, rode Ka’nah to the victory in the ninth race, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race on the dirt track.
Santa Anita has been under a microscope since 37 horses died in racing or training incidents during the 2018-19 season, causing many animal rights activists to call for an end to the sport in California.
Another 14 have died this season, most recently Tailback, a 4-year-old gelding, who fractured his right front leg during training Sunday and was euthanized after an examination determined it was an unrecoverable injury.
A months-long investigation by state regulators in 2019 found no evidence of illegal medications or procedures, but determined most of the horses had “pre-existing pathology,” according to a report by the California Horse Racing Board.