Santa Anita Park’s fall season begins a week earlier than usual, but features 24 stakes – 15 graded – over its 18-day autumn campaign.
The Southern California track opens Sept. 19 and runs through Oct. 25. Usually, Santa Anita’s opening weekend loads up with graded stakes races. But with the head start, most of those remain scheduled for the last Friday and Saturday of September, which is the track’s traditional opening weekend.
Instead, the meet opens with the Grade 3 Chillingworth Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Opening weekend also features the first of seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events, the Speakeasy Stakes. That race offers the winner of the 5 ½-furlong, 2-year-old turf sprint a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Formerly known as the LA Woman Stakes, the Chillingworth was renamed to honor the late Sherwood Chillingworth, the longtime director of the Oak Tree Racing Association. For years, Santa Anita’s fall meet was commonly called the “Oak Tree.”
Six-Pack of Stakes on Sept. 26
The headline day for horseplayers is Sept. 26, when Santa Anita offers six stakes, including three Grade 1s. Those are the Awesome Again, which offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Rodeo Drive, a gate to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the American Pharoah, which provides a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Along with that, the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes offers the winner a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Chandelier Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, was one of two Santa Anita fall races relegated from Grade 1s by the American Graded Stakes Committee. It, and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, are now both Grade 2s. Both came with accompanying purse reductions, from $300,000 to $200,000.
The Santa Anita Sprint Championship and Grade 2 Zenyatta round out the meet’s Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events on Sept. 27. The Santa Anita Sprint Championship punches the winner’s ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Zenyatta provides the winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Santa Anita Provides Breeders’ Cup Stepping Stones
The “Win and You’re In” races give race winners an all-expenses/all-fees-paid berth in their respective Breeders’ Cup races. Held at Santa Anita last year, the Breeders’ Cup is Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland.
One of the meet’s other featured stakes races is the Grade 2 Eddie D Stakes, named after legendary Hall of Fame jockey and Santa Anita mainstay Eddie Delahoussaye. The 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up headlines Sept. 25’s card.