Father’s Day was closing day at Santa Anita, with a quartet of $100,000 stakes bringing the 2020-2021 winter/spring meet to an exciting conclusion.
Although none of the events were restricted to California-breds, three of the winners were nevertheless bred in the Golden State.
The action began with a resounding performance from Big City Lights in the Fasig-Tipton Futurity, a five-furlong sprint for juveniles. Favored at 1-5 off a runaway debut win at Santa Anita, the California-bred son of Mr. Big led by daylight through fractions of :21.96 and :45.74 before drawing off under a hand ride to trounce Bochombo, Buehler’s Day Off, Street Art, and Heaven Shines by 7 1/4 lengths.
Trained by Luis Mendez and ridden to victory by Juan Hernandez, Big City Lights stopped the clock in :58.20. A stewards’ inquiry, examining an early incident where Street Art checked off the heels of Big City Lights, did not change the order of finish.
American S. (G3)
The first graded stakes of the afternoon was the American, a one-mile turf test featuring half a dozen runners. Two-time graded stakes winner Neptune’s Storm was favored at 9-10 in his 2021 debut, but after tracking fast fractions of :22.91, :45.88, and 1:09.34, he was outkicked down the homestretch by Restrainedvengence, who pounced from midpack under Tyler Baze to prevail by a half-length.
The six-year-old son of Hold Me Back hit the wire in 1:33.87 to record his seventh stakes success (but his first graded win) from 30 starts. Previously third in the Shoemaker Mile (G1), Restrainedvengence has elevated his game to a new level this year, a testament to the excellent training job executed by Val Brinkerhoff over the last five seasons.
Tiz Plus, Majestic Eagle, Sash, and Border Town completed the order of finish.
Fasig-Tipton Debutante S.
Five two-year-old fillies faced the starter in this five-furlong dash, with At the Spa proving best. A seven-length debut winner at Santa Anita, the daughter of Outwork dueled for command through an opening quarter in :22.17, then edged away down the lane to beat Munny Penny (coincidentally the runner-up in At the Spa’s debut) by 2 1/4 lengths.
At the Spa reached the finish line in :59.79 while Laurel Canyon, Loveherheart, and Roal O’Haigan trailed the field. The California-bred winner was ridden to victory by Baze on behalf of Jorge Periban.
Wilshire S. (G3)
Warren’s Showtime finished second behind Leggs Galore in a slow-paced renewal of the Fran’s Valentine S. at Santa Anita last month. But fast splits of :22.45, :45.97, and 1:10.04 in the Wilshire allowed Warren’s Showtime to turn the tables, with the four-year-old daughter of Clubhouse Ride exploding down the homestretch to win the one-mile turf test by 1 1/4 lengths.
Victorious in half a dozen stakes, Warren’s Showtime was guided to victory by Hernandez. The stretch-running Craig Lewis trainee settled back in seventh place before gaining three lengths in the final furlong to win going away in 1:34.29. Leggs Galore, gallant on the front end, held on to finish second in a one-two finish for California-breds, followed by Brooke, Oppodamia’s Girl, Querelle, Gidgetta, Quiet Secretary, and Stela Star.
Thoroughbred racing on the California circuit shifts to Los Alamitos on June 25 for a brief meet running through July 5. The widely anticipated Del Mar meet then takes over the action from July 16 through Sept. 6.