December 26 promises to be one of the most important days in the history of 1/ST Racing. It’s opening day of the Classic Meet at Santa Anita, opening day of the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park and host date of the Christmastide Day stakes card at Laurel Park. All month, 1/ST BET will prepare you for a 26th of December to Remember with special content.
Santa Anita’s San Antonio Stakes is considered a local prep toward the Santa Anita Derby in March. But over the years, that race has become as much a headliner as any main event in the division. There was no more such case as in February 2015 when reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome took on superstar Shared Belief from Jungle Racing of sports radio icon Jim Rome.
The two had finished third and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic a few months prior in a controversial race. Bayern, the upset winner, broke inward at the start and compromised Shared Belief. California Chrome would bounce back to win the Hollywood Derby on turf; Shared Belief subesquently won the Malibu on dirt. That led the public to make Shared Belief the even-money favorite over California Chrome at 7-5 in the San Antonio. The Classic was the only loss on the resume for Shared Belief through his first 9 starts. California Chrome had won 7 of his last 10, including two-thirds of the Triple Crown.
California Chrome got the first jump in the San Antonio, not unexpected, and led Shared Belief into mid-stretch before the favorite eventually pulled clear in a memorable score. It would be the last time these two titans matched up as Shared Belief returned to win the Santa Anita Handicap while California Chrome ventured overseas for the Dubai World Cup, where he finished second.
To underscore the quality of the top pair, the 2015 San Antonio third-place finisher Hoppertunity would go on to win the race the next two years.
The 26th of December to Remember Stakes Lineup
Gulfstream Park | Championship Meet | Opening Day
$100K Tropical Park Derby
$100K Tropical Park Oaks
Santa Anita | Classic Meet | Opening Day
$300K G1 Malibu
$300K G1 American Oaks
$300K G1 La Brea
$200K G2 Mathis Mile
$200K G2 San Antonio
$200K G2 San Gabriel
Laurel Park | Christmastide Day Stakes
$100K Dave’s Friend
$100K Gin Talking
$100K Robert Manfuso
$100K Willa On the Move