ON THE RIGHT TRACK: SANTA ANITA'S FAMOUS GRASS RACES
Great races such as the San Juan Capistrano (the longest U.S. race at 1-5/8 miles), Santa Barbara Handicap, San Luis Rey Stakes, San Gabriel, and San Marcos have produced legendary turf champions: two-time San Juan Capistrano winners NIARCHOS and GEORGE ROYAL; COUGAR II, the flashy Chilean import trained by CHARLIE WHITTINGHAM was a major star at both the Santa Anita and Oak Tree meetings for three years and really demonstrated his quality in 1971 in Santa Anita's important series of grass stakes races of increasing length and purse money. In 1972 COUGAR II was voted the Eclipse Grass Champion Award, capping his successful and thrill-packed career on the track.
1970 was a vintage year for grass racing and produced great rivalries between FIDDLE ISLE, QUICKEN TREE, HITCHCOCK and FORT MARCY; so deep was the contention that year that the Gr. I San Luis Rey had to be run in two divisions producing a historic ending. The deciding confrontation for the top three turf stakes winners, the 1970 1-3/4 mile San Juan Capistrano, seemed like a dream race on paper and became so in reality; it was one of racing's rarities: a dead heat for first between FIDDLE ISLE and QUICKEN TREE over FORT MARCY.
In European racing where the season is shorter and opportunity is limited, fillies regularly compete against males and that practice is increasing in the U.S. Great mares with heart and stamina such as MANTA, PRINCESSNESION, ESTRAPADE, TIZNA and LA ZANZARA have all won Gr. I stakes against the boys at Santa Anita. But the most popular horse to have raced at Santa Anita since SEABISCUIT is JOHN HENRY. He won twelve stakes there and put his personal stamp on the Oak Tree Invitational by winning three renewals in a row from 1980-1982; he provided moments of great exhilaration seldom found in any sport.
Grass racing has consistently showcased the skill of the great horsemen who are among the best of the world: jockey's JOHNNY LONGDEN achieved racing immortality, see footage of his last race and victory on GEORGE ROYAL; CHRIS McCARRON; GARY STEVENS; LAFFIT PINCAY, JR., won his first Santa Anita Jockey Championship in 1970 and lead the list for the twelfth time in 1987; and WILLIE SHOEMAKER, the other undisputed Santa Anita leader has contributed much more than records to Thoroughbred racing, his dedication, style, and substance have resulted in increased respect for the entire sport.
Trainers such as CHARLIE WHITTINGHAM and ELLIOT BIRCH have also left an indelible mark at Santa Anita with their long
list of champions and accomplishments. In addition to the horses already mentioned, see racing footage of AMERIGO, KING TURF, ALIBI, TV LARK, TELEPROMPTER, NOTABLE, OLDEN TIMES, THE AXE, HILL RISE, SERMON, BIG SPRUCE, ASTRAY, ONE ON THE AISLE, THE BART, CRYSTAL WATER, ERIN'S ISLE, WAYA, ZOFFANY, FERDINAND, ROSEDALE, GREAT COMMUNICATOR, and BAFFLE.
Santa Anita's turf history - a virtual hall of fame of horsemen and equine athletes! Some of the most dramatic moments in grass racing history can be yours!
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|