Officials at Santa Anita Park announced a 10% bump in daily purse totals for its 2020-21 Winter/Spring Meet, lifting the daily average purse money available to more than $533,000 at the Southern California track.

Santa Anita Park 2020-21 Schedule
The 2020 Santa Anita Derby produced two of the top four Kentucky Derby finishers in winner Honor A.P. (right) and eventual Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. The 2021 Santa Anita Derby is one of 10 Grade 1 races on the Southern California track’s 2020-21 Winter/Spring meet schedule. (Image: Benoit Photo/Associated Press)

This is significant for the iconic track. Unlike many other tracks, Santa Anita doesn’t have a casino fueling its purses. Instead, the track’s purses come from a percentage of handle wagered.

“Building Santa Anita’s aggressive overnight purse schedule is a reflection of the confidence that we have in California racing, even in the midst of a pandemic,” said Craig Fravel, the CEO of The Stronach Group’s 1st Racing in a release. “Nothing has been easy about this past year, so we are thankful to the horsemen who have continued to support our program on a daily basis.”

Overnight purses create the backbone of horse racing. They comprise the payouts for the maiden, claimer, and allowance races that account for 85% of the country’s races. For those races, Santa Anita built a total purse of more than $43 million.

Santa Anita Park’s Stakes Remain Strong

As for stakes races, Santa Anita puts up more than $15 million in purses for its 95 stakes events — 60 of which are graded. Ten of the graded stakes are Grade 1s, including three on its traditional Dec. 26 opening day. Those are the Malibu Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters, the La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters, and the American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

The Santa Anita Derby, one of the premier Kentucky Derby preps, is April 3. That Grade 1 race produced 19 Kentucky Derby winners, including Authentic this year.

A month earlier is the first of two marquee races for older horses: the venerable Santa Anita Handicap is March 6. The second older horse spotlight – the Hollywood Gold Cup – is May 31.

Santa Anita Park-Key Winter/Spring Stakes Races

Date Race Grade Distance Eligible Horses
Dec. 26, 2020 Malibu Stakes I 7 furlongs 3-Year-Old Males
Dec. 26, 2020 La Brea Stakes I 7 furlongs 3-Year-Old Fillies
Dec. 26, 2020 American Oaks I 1 1/16 miles 3-Year-Old Fillies
March 6, 2021 Santa Anita Handicap I 1 1/4 miles 4-Year-Olds and Up
March 6, 2021 Kilroe Mile I 1 mile (Turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up
March 6, 2021 Beholder Mile I 1 mile 4-Year-Olds and Up Fillies/Mares
April 3, 2021 Santa Anita Derby I 1 1/8 miles 3-Year-Olds
May 31, 2021 Hollywood Gold Cup I 1 1/4 miles 3-Year-Olds and Up
May 31, 2021 Shoemaker Mile I 1 mile (Turf) 3-Year-Olds and Up
May 31, 2021 Gamely Stakes I 1 1/8 miles (Turf) 3-Year-Olds and Up Fillies/Mares

Several of those stakes races will run on Santa Anita’s new turf course, which underwent a six-month remodel that created a new chute. The remodel, the first since the 1950s, allows races up to 6-½ furlongs on the main turf oval. New sod went in as well.

Santa Anita’s meet begins Dec. 26 and runs through June 20.