It’s nearly here. The Breeders’ Cup. Less than a week until the biggest two days in Thoroughbred racing. For Mike Smith, the rides are secure, the search is over, now it’s the research, the preparation, the final breezes before the racing world converges on Smith’s home track, Santa Anita Park. With its downhill turf chute, Santa Anita provides a difference nuance than most American tracks.
Our grass course is a bit on the firm side. As far as our dirt, it’s pretty much the same as most racetracks. It resembles Belmont a little bit, as far as the consistency, the sand. Whereas in the past, it used to be that fast, fast dirt, people always talked about that California speed, we used to fly on that hard dirt surface, now it resembles East Coast dirt.
Our races off the hill are a bit different, the Europeans will adapt quicker than the East Coast horses who haven’t run over it. All in all, Santa Anita is one of the greatest places to have it, not only the weather but you can do so much with the turf course, coming off that hill.
It’s definitely home court for me, you just seem to play a little bit better at home because it’s where you practice every day, you know the distance from the head of the stretch to the wire, it’s different at different places. At Churchill, it’s longer, the guys who are riding there have a tiny bit of an advantage. But a good horse equals out all the advantages. If not, gives you one.
Read about Smith’s riding style, top Breeders’ Cup hopefuls and how horses handle the big weekend at Jockey Journal 4.