Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Santa Anita: New Track, New Records

Posted by Brian Appleton on December 27, 2010

A bridesmaid in her last two starts, both Grade 1 stakes, 3-year-old filly Switch raised her game to the next level on Sunday in Santa Anita’s La Brea Stakes (gr.1). On opening day at Santa Anita, Switch burst from the gates in the La Brea Stakes, patiently biding her time down the backstretch before blowing past her rivals on the rail and running away to a 4 length victory in a stakes record time of 1.:20.33, beating the 1993 mark of 1:20.45 set by Mamselle Bebette.

The new dirt track was playing fast all day and Switch’s record run was the second record of the day to fall after promising 2-year-old The Factor set a 6 furlong track record of 1:06.98.

The La Brea capped what has been a fantastic year for Switch. On June 6th Switch defeated leading 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award candidate and heavily favored Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks (gr.2). On October 2nd Switch finished half a length behind super-star Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr.1) and then followed that impressive performance up with another second place finish behind Dubai Majesty in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr.1).  The La Brea was the filly’s first race since finishing second at the Breeders’ Cup and trainer John Sadler had his filly sharp as a razor.

It will be interesting to see what this talented filly can do next year as she continues to grow and mature. It appears that all of the best sophomore fillies of 2010 will be returning to race in 2011, Blind Luck, Evening Jewel and now Switch.

If there was ever any doubt that Sidney’s Candy might not be as good as his record setting La Jolla romp in August

Sidney's Candy

suggested, the fabulous colt set all those doubts to rest with an all-too-easy victory in the Sir Beaufort (gr.3). After his incredible La Jolla romp, Sidney’s Candy went almost three months without a prep race straight to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr.1) where he finished sixth to one of the greatest race mares in history, Goldikova, three time Breeders’ Cup Mile champion and international super-star.

Given the proper time and training regimen between races this time Sidney’s Candy was back to his old brilliant self, winning the Sir Beaufort by more than 7 lengths with careless ease. Running over Santa Anita’s brand new dirt surface after wet conditions on Saturday forced the race to be moved from the turf to the main course, Sidney’s Candy took the field gate to wire in his typical speed-ball fashion.

The Sir Beaufort made for the second graded stakes score of the day for trainer John Sadler who sadly missed the action live as he was laid up with a bad knee.

Twirling Candy

A mere couple of hours later Sadler’s incredible string of graded stakes victories continued as Twirling Candy won a thrilling stretch battle with Smiling Tiger in the Malibu Stakes (Gr.1), making it a clean sweep of all three graded stakes races on opening day.

Making a three-wide move on the far turn, Twirling Candy swept into contention entering the homestretch and immediately hooked up with Smiling Tiger on the lead. Those two battled it out the entire length of the stretch with Twirling Candy finally thrusting his nose in front at the wire in a spectacular time of 1:19.70, effectively breaking the old dirt track record of 1:20 flat set by the great Spectacular Bid in 1980.

If the Malibu is any indication of what we can expect from Twirling Candy in the future than we should be in for a very promising older horse next year. Trainer John Sadler certainly thinks so.


7 Responses to “Santa Anita: New Track, New Records”

  1. gib. said

    I made a rare trip to the leftcoast yesterday via Twinspires. I enjoyed playing the Santa Anita races on dirt.

    In my opinion the track was fast enough to give Andy Beyer’s fig team migraines but played fairly. I gave an advatage to horses that had worked out over the surface or had some dirt form. That seemed helpful in some situations.

    The dirt angle made NOBLE’S PROMISE my win play in the Malibu – bummer. The 5,9/4,5,9,11 exacta and an ealier hit made it a profitable day. This linkrecaps my adventures at Santa Anita’s opening day.

    • Hey Gib, nice to hear from you again!

      I was expecting a much stronger effort from Noble’s Promise but I’m sure he will improve next out, I’ve always though of him as a very classy runner. Smiling Tiger was a heart breaker in the Malibu for me, but I loved how The Factor, Switch and Sidney’s Candy came through!

      What do you think of the way the dirt track at Santa Anita played opening day? The times were blazing all day! I wonder if it will hold up or settle down with time.

      Hope you had a great Christmas and have a wonderful New Year!

      • gib. said

        I thought that the SA dirt was very fast, obviously, but fair on opening day. On day two I only played a couple races. In those races (2&6) speed seemed to carry.

        It’s back to the right coast for me on Wednesday. Aqueduct re-opens and I’m going to play Gulfstream with a friend this year.

        However, on the weather ugly days at AQU or when I’m looking for some late afternoon action, the dirt will draw me to Santa Anita with as much confidence as a lousy handicapper can have.

        Dirt just makes it seem like racing to me.

        In our area we have Presque Isle in the summer and Keeneland’s premier meets. They are both nice facilties – Keeneland is an awesome mix of nastalgia and avid race fans. Still the dirt draws me to dumpy places like Thistledown, Bealuh, and Rive Downs.

  2. Brian,

    I hope you had a Merry Christmas and wish you and yours a Happy New Year.

    I voted SWITCH as most impressive because of the field she beat and how she did it. Not many Breeders’ Cup alum win next time out but she did, albeit at a prohibitive price. She defeated BLIND LUCK @ Hol, ran 2nd to ZENYATTA…this filly will make 2011 very exciting for her connections and SoCal racing fans like me.

    TWIRLING CANDY had better go undefeated and win at the G.I level all year long to justify breaking SPECTACULAR BID’s 30 year old track record. SIDNEY’S CANDY defeated nothing but did it effortlessly.

    It’s great to be John Sadler right now.
    The dirt is way too fast.

    • Thanks Rob, I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, I hope yours was great as well!

      I agree, Switch looks like she’s ready to make a serious run at the older filly/mare title in 2011. I can’t believe how great the ranks are going to be this year in the Older Filly/Mare division with Blind Luck, Evening Jewel, Switch and Havre de Grace all running.

  3. gib. said

    I don’t think the the ‘capper has to worry about TWIRLING CANDY displacing SPECATULAR BID’s memory.

    Technology, weather, etc. dictate that old records must fall. What if 1939 Olymic champ Jesse Owens had run on modern synthetic tracks rather than cinders?

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