ARCADIA, Calif. — Racing has returned to Santa Anita with the opening of its fall meet amid intense scrutiny after the deaths of 31 horses at the historic track earlier in the year.
There were no incidents during morning training hours or through the first three races Friday. The nine-race card includes three graded stakes races, with two of those winners earning automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Santa Anita.
Aidan Butler, the new acting executive director for Santa Anita and chief strategy officer of its owner, The Stronach Group, says there’s a lot at stake for the track during its 23-day meet.
Butler says officials want to show that Santa Anita is the safest racetrack and the sport of horse racing is a viable sport and “a beautiful sport when done right.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Arabian Knight is off the Kentucky Derby trail.
Wagering has been suspended on the 3-year-old colt for the Derby’s future wager after owner Amr Zedan announced the decision. Arabian Knight was the second choice on the morning line behind favorite Forte for the May 6 race.
“Trainer Tim Yakteen wasn’t happy with his last work & we feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush & allow him more time to develop,” Zedan tweeted. “We know he’s a superior talent & our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.”
Purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, Arabian Knight won his debut by 7 1/4 lengths at Keeneland last November. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest at Oaklawn in January and won by 5 1/2 lengths.
Arabian Knight had his third workout at Santa Anita.
TAMPA, Fla. — Tapit Trice rallied from last to win the $360,000 Tampa Bay Derby by two lengths and earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Luis Saez, Tapit Trice ran 1 1/16 miles 1:43.37. The 1-2 favorite in the field of 12 paid $3 to win. The 3-year-old colt earned 50 qualifying points, which places him in the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher extended his record for most wins in the Grade 3 race to six. He already has the early Kentucky Derby favorite in Forte, who won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last weekend.
Classic Car Wash was second and Classic Legacy was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.
Tapit Trice was making his stakes debut after winning two of three starts.
“Once he got clear down the lane, he really extended himself,” Pletcher said. ”I loved the way he finished up. He relished the two turns, and the longer he goes, the better he’ll get.”