Santa Anita Sets $26.3 Million All-Time Record Opening Day Handle

December 27, 2022

On-Track Crowd Of 41,446 Enjoys Great Weather & World Class Racing

Benoit Photo

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.—With idyllic weather conditions and a full menu of world class racing highlighted by six graded stakes, Santa Anita Park established an all-time record Classic Meet opening day handle mark of $26,315,016, a 35 percent increase over last year’s opener.  An on-track crowd of 41,446, the Arcadia oval’s biggest on-track gathering since opening day, Dec. 26, 2016, contributed to a festive atmosphere that accompanied a truly unforgettable day

With three Grade I stakes included among the six graded offerings there were a number of tremendous performances, none topped by Taiba’s 4 ¼ length triumph in the Grade I Runhappy Malibu, making him North America’s only sophomore to win three Grade I stakes in 2022 and thus bolstering his case in the running for Eclipse Award honors for top 3-year-old Male.

“It was a fantastic day,” said Santa Anita Senior Vice President and General Manager Nate Newby.  “Today, Santa Anita Park again proved why we are indeed The Great Race Place.  We’d like to thank our fans and horseplayers around the country and those that were with us here on-track for their continued support of our program.

“We’d also like to thank our horsemen, horse owners from around the world, our Hall of Fame jockey colony and our racing department for putting together one of the best cards run anywhere this year.  Combining it with picture-perfect weather, it was just a great start to our Classic Meet.”

Taiba, trained by Bob Baffert, provided the Nogales, AZ native with his second Grade I stakes win of the day, his third graded win and was just one of five overall victories for Santa Anita’s all-time leading Hall of Fame conditioner.

European superstar jockey Frankie Dettori, who has committed to riding full-time at Santa Anita for the first time in 35 years and who has also announced that he will retire following the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 3 & 4 here, had a riding triple, including victory aboard North America’s leading active money earner, Country Grammer, in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes.

Speaking of jockeys, Santa Anita’s defending Classic Meet leader, Juan Hernandez, capped his opening day off with victory aboard the Phil D’Amato-trained Rhea Moon in the Grade I American Oaks, his second Grade I tally of the day and his fourth overall opening day win.

Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Friday, with first post time set for 12 noon through Monday, Jan. 2.

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