Citing a major winter storm expected this weekend, Santa Anita Park canceled its Friday racing card. The Southern California track announced the move Tuesday morning.
Track officials announced that two turf stakes, the Grade 2 San Marcos on Saturday and Sunday’s Black-Type $75,000 Baffle, will move to next week. The 6-½-furlong Baffle will run on Friday, Feb. 5, and the 1-¼-mile San Marcos on Saturday, Feb. 6. Acclimate is the expected favorite in the San Marcos.
“The models are showing us three straight days of rain, with the heaviest hitting around noon on Friday,” said Nate Newby, Santa Anita senior vice president and general manager in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “We’ve discussed it with our stakeholders and canceling Friday in advance provides horsemen, fans, and employees the best scenario to plan accordingly.”
Friday’s entries were due to the track’s racing office on Sunday, but Santa Anita officials extended that deadline to Tuesday to get a better read on the weekend’s weather forecast. Friday’s forecast for Arcadia – Santa Anita’s home city northeast of Los Angeles – predicts a 75% chance of showers, according to weather.com.
Santa Anita Keeps Saturday Stakes
The proactive move not only saves Santa Anita’s new turf surface from abuse, but saves the card. If there was Friday racing, every turf race would be moved to the dirt, with the predictable scratches following suit. Fields would suffer, along with racing quality.
Instead, matters will resume on Saturday, where there’s only a 10% chance of rain forecast. That keeps two featured stakes races on the calendar: the $100,000, Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis, and the Grade 2, $200,000 San Pascual.
The Lewis is a key prep for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, featuring Bob Baffert’s Spielberg against Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie. The San Pascual is a major prep for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, one of the country’s iconic races for older horses. King Guillermo, last seen finishing fourth in the Cigar Mile in early December, should make his West Coast debut here.
Santa Anita plans extra races throughout the next racing week to make up for Friday’s scratched races.