Following in the successful hoofprints of the Tin Man Starter Allowance Series, Santa Anita Park announced a new series of turf allowance races for fillies and mares, the Santa Anita Turf Starter Series.

SA Turf Starter Series
Santa Anita Park’s Turf Starter Series will give allowance-level fillies and mares the chance to follow in Twilight Stakes winner Subconscious’ grassy hoofprints. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The Turf Starter Series is comprised of four sprints and four route races, all on the Santa Anita grass. Along with regular purse money, the first four finishers in each race earn points on a 10-6-3-1 basis.

At the end of the eight-race series, owners of the top point-earning horses in each division — sprint and route — receive $5,000. The second-place finishers win $3,000. The third-place finishers earn $2,000.

The Turf Starter Series is open to fillies and mares who have started for a claiming tag of $25,000 or less. This gives this class of horses good spots to run while showcasing Santa Anita’s revamped turf courses.

Turf Starter Series avoids the claiming tag

“The Tin Man Starter Series, which we’ll again be offering this winter and spring, was well-received last season and we’re hopeful this new series for fillies and mares will also generate a good deal of interest,” Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz told Santa Anita’s Mike Willman. “It gives owners and trainers more options and, obviously, it’s a way to stay on the turf and run for good purse money against comparable horses without risking them for a claiming tag.”

Sprint distances in the series run five furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, six furlongs, and 6 1/2 furlongs. Route distances begin at one mile, progressing to 1 1/8 miles, 1 1/4 miles, and finally, 1 1/2 miles. Both series begin at the shortest distance and progress longer. Expect Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course to see action here.

Some versatile fillies, mares could tackle both series

“What we’ve done is package both a sprint series and route series as one,” Merz said. “Although we anticipate that those horses running in sprints will aim for the four short races and that our routers will try to do the same going long, horsemen may opt to mix and match in terms of distances at some point, and they’re welcome to do so.”

The first leg of the Turf Starter Series is the one-mile route on Jan. 17. The second leg is the five-furlong sprint running on Jan. 28. The rest of the Turf Starter Series dates will be announced later.