The Oak Tree Racing Association kicked off its 41st racing season on Wednesday at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia. The highlight of the meeting will no doubt be the 26th running of the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be hosted by Oak Tree for an unprecedented second consecutive year on Nov. 6 and 7.
Oak Tree will also be offering a full menu of “Free Fridays” throughout the six week meet, which will feature free General Admission, free box seats and $1 hot dogs, beer, popcorn, sodas and coffee. Special first post time on these Fridays will be at 2 p.m. The only “Free Friday” exception will be day-one of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, on Nov. 6.
“This promotion was extremely popular with our fans at the Santa Anita winter/spring meet and we are very confident it’s going to remain so here at Oak Tree,” said Oak Tree Director and Executive Vice President Sherwood Chillingworth. “We’re also very excited about the 2 p.m. post time. We feel this is going to make it easier for people who are getting off work to come out, have a good time and get their weekend off to a good start.”
The California Cup, a series of races restricted to horses bred in California and traditionally one of the most popular dates on the racing calendar, will be run for the 20th time on Saturday, Oct. 3. A total of $1 million in purse money will be offered throughout the program.
Oak Tree will offer a total of seven Grade I Breeders’ Cup prep races over the first two weekends, beginning with Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds on Sunday, Oct. 4. Both races will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
On Saturday, Oct. 10, Oak Tree will offer three Grade I Breeders’ Cup preps: The Lady’s Secret, Yellow Ribbon and Goodwood Stakes. The Lady’s Secret for fillies and mares aged 3-and-up, is at 1 1/16 miles, the Yellow Ribbon, also for fillies and mares 3-and-up, is at 1 ¼ miles on turf and the Goodwood is for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
It is expected that Jerry and Ann Moss’s undefeated Zenyatta will defend her title in the Lady’s Secret and that this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Mine that Bird, will run in the Goodwood Stakes, in final preparation for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.
Two Grade I Breeders’ Cup preps will be run on Sunday, Oct. 11: the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles and the Ancient Title Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.
“Last year’s Breeders’ Cup was a resounding success. Both the main track and the turf course performed perfectly and drew rave reviews from horsemen all over the world,” said Chillingworth. “We believe we have the best venue in the world and we are very optimistic that despite the fact we’ve again got a soft economy to deal with, we’re going to have a tremendous two-days of racing.
“We’ve structured our Breeders’ Cup preps in such a way that all of those horsemen competing in our seven Grade I stakes over the first two weekends will have ample time to have their horses ready for the Championships on Nov. 6 and 7. From start to finish, we are expecting to have a great meet,” he added.
A total of six World Championship races will be run on Friday, Nov. 6, with the $2 million Ladies’ Classic, for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles taking center stage.
Day two of the Championships, on Nov. 7, will feature eight Breeders’ Cup races, with the $5 million Classic, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles, serving as the afternoon’s centerpiece.
Oak Tree first hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 1986 and this year will mark the fifth time the World Championships have been conducted in Arcadia.
First post times for the Breeders’ Cup are as follows: On Friday, Nov. 6, race one will get underway at 11:15 a.m. and on day two, Nov. 7, first post is scheduled for 10:05 a.m.
First post time on opening day, Sept. 30 and most weekdays is 1 p.m. First post on weekends and holidays will be at 12:30 p.m., with the following exceptions: Cal Cup Day, Saturday, Oct. 3, first post is 12 noon. First post on closing day, Nov. 8, is 12 noon.
Additional information is available at www.oaktreeracing.com.
Photos by Terry Miller