‘Sunshine Bonus’ Attracting Out-Of-State Interest To Santa Anita Meet

Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

With its traditional Winter/Spring opener set for Saturday, Dec. 26, Santa Anita’s newly announced Sunshine Bonus program is attracting out-of-state horses as trainers and horseman also consider a 10 percent raise in overnight purses which will enable The Great Race Place to distribute $533,000 on a daily basis.

The Sunshine Bonus, which provides several significant incentives, including an immediate payment of $3,000 to the owner of any eligible horse making their first start at Santa Anita, has garnered the attention of horsemen nationwide.

“We’re getting more and more interest from people out of state,” said Chris Merz, Santa Anita’s Director of Racing. “Robert Falcone, Jr., who is based in New York, was here a couple of years ago and he’s here again with a string of horses. With our new turf chute and the overall course in pristine condition, we’re going to be able to offer the best wintertime turf racing in North American, without question. Additionally, when you look at the 10 percent increase in overnight purses and the very significant added money provided by the Sunshine Bonus program, people are thinking about us like maybe they haven’t in many years now. We’re very encouraged.”

Falcone, Jr., who first came to Southern California for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar with Mind Your Biscuits while an assistant to Chad Summers, is excited to be back in Arcadia.

“I’ve got 25 horses, mainly claiming horses, a few allowance and a couple stakes horses that we’ve brought out from Belmont Park,” he said. “A lot of factors went into making the move. This is a nice environment and the people here are very accommodating. Obviously, the Sunshine Bonus is very important and with the 10 percent increase in overnight purses, we realized the purses this winter at Santa Anita are a little better than at Gulfstream. We had a great experience when we came out here with Mind Your Biscuits and when he won the Malibu that year (2017), it was just tremendous and we ended up having a very successful winter.

“This is an unbelievable place to train horses and with the new turf chute, the grass racing is going to give us a lot of options. To be honest, I felt like I really wanted to help the program here. Santa Anita has been through so much and now, it looks like everything is going in the right direction. The changes that have been made can be difficult at times, but this new approach is what’s needed in this game.”

In addition to providing a $3,000 starter’s bonus to eligible out-of-state horses, Santa Anita’s Sunshine Bonus will also award a 35 percent bonus, above regular purse money-won, to eligible horses in their first five Santa Anita starts.

For additional information on Santa Anita’s upcoming Winter/Spring Meet, please visit santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.

Published at Mon, 07 Dec 2020 21:25:00 +0000

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