Chasing a Santa Anita Pick Six carryover pool that had increased to more than $1.8 million, horseplayers went after it with a vengeance Wednesday.
Looking to end a streak of five days without a Pick Six winner, fans bet $4,827,165, a U.S. record for a single pool and made the total pool $6,657.311. Of the former amount, $3,000,493 was bet at Santa Anita, also a U.S. record.
Even though longshots won four of the Pick Six races, there were eight perfect tickets, each worth $469,885, the third-highest payoff for the Pick Six at Santa Anita.
According to track officials, $5,000 is the average handle for early Pick Six wagering. Wednesday the figure exceeded $117,000.
Attendance was also up. There were 25,241 at Santa Anita, almost 11,000 more than the previous Wednesday, and the 9,856 who showed up at the 11 intertrack locations was about 4,000 more than the previous week.
Of the eight winning tickets, only two were purchased in California, both at Santa Anita. Four were bought in Nevada and one each at Canterbury Downs in Minnesota and Mountaineer Park in West Virginia.
Chris McCarron had a present for Kent Desormeaux after Wednesday's $139,400 California Breeders' Champion Stakes.
While Desormeaux was watching the replay of Simple Surprise's 19-1 upset, McCarron hit him with a bucket of water.
Desormeaux didn't mind the gift usually reserved for apprentices after their first victory. "It felt like the first one, I'll tell you that," he said.
The national record-holder for most victories in one year and the 1989 Eclipse Award winner, Desormeaux ended an 0-for-52 streak when Simple Surprise held off 2-1 favorite Shall Be Faithful to win by a half-length.
In addition to providing Desormeaux with only his fourth victory in 115 races sat Santa Anita, Simple Surprise, a 3-year-old daughter of Empire Glory, gave trainer Henry Dominguez his first thoroughbred stakes victory.
Winning for the fourth time in eight starts, the former claimer forced the moderate pace along the inside, put away Number's Game, then withstood Shall Be Faithful's late bid to win in 1:23 1/5 for the seven furlongs.
"I thought she had a chance, but there were a couple in there I figured could have beat her," Desormeaux said. "When it isn't your turn, it isn't, and when it is, it is.
"I started the season with (a five-day suspension for an incident near the end of Hollywood Park). Then, no matter whether they were 1-9 or 100-1, they finished second. I'm glad the man upstairs chose this one for me to break it. That's a nice little purse. But even a $10,000 claimer would have picked my head up."
Dominguez, a former quarter horse jockey who still trains at Los Alamitos, certainly found a bargain in Simple Surprise. She was purchased for $4,200 last August at Del Mar and began her career in a $32,000 maiden race at Los Alamitos.
"Kent rode her just perfect," said Dominguez, the brother of suspended quarter horse trainer Caesar Dominguez. "I told him we might have trouble on the inside and said if we made the lead, go on with her.
"I think seven furlongs is the ideal distance for her. I've been running her at six furlongs and 1 1/16 miles and I think we've hit the distance right on the button."
Making her first start since breaking her maiden Nov. 28, Shall Be Faithful finished three-quarters of a length ahead of 24-1 shot Apreciada, who didn't have the best of trips. Perky Slew, hampered by a bad break, was fourth, almost three lengths behind Apreciada.
Horse Racing Notes
If longshot New Sheila had won the ninth race, there would have been one winning ticket in the Pick Six and it would have been worth $3.75 million. . . . Laffit Pincay picked up career victory No. 7,500 Wednesday when Stalwart Express took the first race. The world's second-winningest jockey--Bill Shoemaker finished with 8,833--Pincay, 44, is third in the Santa Anita standings with 26 victories. . . . Hit A Homer Honey and Olden's Opinion were scratched from the California Breeders' Champion Stakes. The latter was entered back in an allowance race Friday. . . . The total mutuel handle was a $12,277,176, a U.S. record for a weekday handle. . . . It appears that El Encino Stakes winner A Wild Ride will have five opponents when she starts in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes Saturday. The others set to go 1 1/8 miles are Highland Tide, Somethingmerry, Vieille Vigne, Questioning and Palace Chill.