It was a great Memorial Day weekend of racing around the country, but Santa Anita stood out above the rest. On Saturday, the southern California track played host to the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes, then on Monday, Santa Anita hosted the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event, the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes. Let’s see who made our Three Stars of the Week after all of the action at the Great Race Place.
That was a devastating double! On March 10, Accelerate dominated his foes in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, and last Saturday. he won in the same fashion over a solid field in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Both wins came at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, and for the time being, he will be the number one-ranked older male in the country. After losing to City of Light at Oaklawn in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, Accelerate was able to turn the tables by sitting off the pace set by City of Light and Dr. Dorr. At the top of the stretch, Accelerate made his move and easily ran away from the competition to win by 4 1/4 lengths. He will likely now point to Del Mar, where he usually runs very well.
Last Monday was the start to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series, with the Shoemaker Mile giving an all-expenses-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Three past Breeders’ Cup Mile runners competed in the race, but in the end, none of those won, as it was Hunt nosing out Heart to Heart right at the wire. The pace was set by the speedy Om, with Heart to Heart sitting in second and Hunt stalking just behind. Hunt came to the outside at the top of the stretch and was game down the entire length, wearing down Heart to Heart while holding off Next Shares. Much like Accelerate, Hunt runs very well at Del Mar, which is likely where he will be pointed next.
Itsinthepost got back to his winning ways on Saturday in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes with a commanding 1 1/4-length victory. He sat in fourth early on while stalking the pace along the outside. Coming into the stretch, he made a three-wide bid and easily passed his rivals under mild urging. He was pulling away at the wire and seemed to only be getting stronger. This horse is simply a monster at Santa Anita, having now won five in a row over the turf course. The win was the 10th of his career and pushed his career earnings to $1,240,712.