News and STORIES

Santa Anita Derby Canceled; Come Dancing Works Toward Apple Blossom

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday April 01, 2020
Santa Anita Park has announced that the track will be closed for live racing through April 4-5, responding to an order issued from the Los Angeles County Health Department last week. According to a release issued on March 31 by the track, the order related to all essential businesses. 

Santa Anita Derby

April 4-5 was set to see the running of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Santa Anita Oaks (G1). They will now be rescheduled for sometime later in the season. 

"At Santa Anita Park, the health, safety, and welfare of every person and every horse in our community remains our top priority," read the release. "We are continuing to have constructive dialogue with the LA County Health Department and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and her staff. 

"In cooperation with our industry stakeholders, a proposal was submitted earlier this week, which we believe was fully responsive to their requests. We have yet to receive a satisfactory response to that proposal.

"Numerous racetracks around the country are continuing to operate. They are running for exactly the same reasons that Santa Anita is trying to communicate to LA County officials—because the consequences of closing down the economic engine that fuels the community makes the risks and potential issues significantly worse when racing is closed and only training allowed.

"There are over 1,700 horses stabled at Santa Anita who require daily care provided by more than 750 backstretch team members. Most of these team members live on-site and have been operating under stringent new measures for protection aligned with the best guidance from local and international health and government authorities on COVID-19. The track has been closed to the general public and closed to all but essential personnel since March 12, 2020. 

"We will continue to work with county health authorities to familiarize them with the protocols already in place and our plans to protect the health and safety of the community who works with the horses and calls Santa Anita home. We look forward to the return of live racing at Santa Anita as soon as approval is received from local regulators."

Come Dancing and the Apple Blossom

While the big races at Santa Anita have been canceled, the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) is still set to run on April 18 at Oaklawn Park. Millionaire grade 1 winner Come Dancing is looking toward the race as her 2020 debut.

Come Dancing's new trainer is Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. 

The mare arrived at Oaklawn between 10-12 days ago, according to Lukas. She recorded her first published local work toward the race, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 under rider Yoni Hernandez on a track rated muddy. 

"We've had some good fillies in our time, but she impressed the hell out of me," Lukas said. 

According to Lukas, the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom for older fillies and mares was already being considered for Come Dancing. She is a five-time stakes winner with earnings of $1,064,950.

Aqueduct Racetrack announced on March 25 that it was suspending live racing through at least April 5 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Oaklawn has been racing without spectators since March 13 and has new guidelines in place, which are supposed to help the track race until its schedule closes on May 2.

Come Dancing's last start was when she finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. It was her only career race outside of New York. Out of 14 career races, she has eight victories, including the Aug. 24 Ketel One Ballerine Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.