Country Grammer dazzles at Santa Anita to complete Boxing Day treble for Frankie Dettori

Jockey Frankie Dettori is enjoying a season to remember after claiming a treble on Boxing Day at Santa Anita.

Earlier this month the popular Italian announced 2023 would be his final year as a professional rider, with Santa Anita set to stage his swansong at next year's Breeders' Cup.

Dettori also confirmed he would head to California over the festive period and made an immediate impact as he enjoyed an opening day hat-trick.

The 52-year-old's first success came aboard the Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer, who he steered to Dubai World Cup glory at Meydan in March.

Dropping in class for the Grade Two San Antonio Stakes after finishing second in his two previous outings at Grade One level - including a runner-up finish to the brilliant Flightline in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in September - the five-year-old comfortably got back on the winning trail.

After treating racegoers to his famous flying dismount celebration, Dettori told TVG: "The pressure was on. I'm here for 10 weeks and to ride possibly the best horse in California on the first day, I felt it a bit.

"Once I knew I had the race won at the furlong marker I was able to enjoy the crowd - they were all screaming."

Of Country Grammer, he added: "He's a good horse who never knows how to run a bad race. Bob was very confident and actually being drawn six was good for him as at least I could move whenever I wanted.

"He's a tough horse and you've got to put it up to them. You wouldn't do that with another horse - send him at the three-eighths (marker) - but he's got the lungs to take it and it just takes the rest out of their comfort zone.

"He won like a good horse and will have his air miles ready to go to the Middle East and race for a lot of money. It was an amazing comeback run."

Baffert said: "He's the neatest, coolest horse and really brought us up when we were really down.

"I'm happy for Frankie Dettori. This is his last year and to have him on there and win a race like this - I can't believe the crowd today, it's crazy, it's like a Breeders' Cup day."

Dettori went on to enjoy further success aboard Doug O'Neill's La Deuxieme Etoile and Simon Callaghan's Ballet Dancing, who carried the Coolmore colours to victory.

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