Frankie Dettori on his time at Santa Anita and riding Country Grammer in the Saudi Arabia Cup
Frankie Dettori’s time in America is going so well, he wishes he could turn back the clock.
The biggest name in racing is on his farewell tour after announcing in December that this season would be his last.
The 52-year-old started his latest win by swapping Great Britain for California this winter when he flew to Santa Anita in Arcadia.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I had a great start with three winners on the first day,” he told Dailymail.com.
“It’s been great, I ride with winners regularly, I ride with different trainers, I really enjoy it, the weather is fantastic, my wife came last week.
After winning the San Antonio Stakes, Frankie Dettori performed his signature flying jump
Dettori rode Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer to success at Santa Anita on Dec. 26
“I started there 35 years ago, so it’s like going down memory lane for me.
“I was like a kid trying to learn from the big guys. Now it’s the other way around, I’m old and everyone looks at me.
“If I had at least one regret, I would have done it 10 years ago.”
Dettori boasts the second-best record at Santa Anita this winter with 15 thirds, nine seconds and 18 winners from 85 rides.
“I enjoy it even more because I know it’s my last year,” added the face of the sport.
“I’ve wintered in Santa Anita four times, so I know the track well. It took me a day to refocus my mind on American racing.
“It’s all about positioning, speed, goal speed, draws, much faster than in Europe.
“You have to be very, very, very sharp. Everything happens a lot faster, so you have to be on your A game every race. I’m enjoying the thrill.”
Dettori and Country Grammer reunited in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday for the $20 million Saudi Arabia Cup
Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer was part of Dettori’s opening day treble when the pair teamed up to win the Dec. 26 San Antonio Stakes.
The duo enjoyed success at last year’s World Championships in Dubai and Dettori is aiming for another hat-trick this weekend.
The Italian will be aboard the six-year-old in the $20 million Saudi Arabia Cup in just 24 hours.
“The horse is a great horse, he’s super consistent, he doesn’t know how to run a bad race,” Dettori said.
The 52-year-old jockey has announced his retirement this year and his final season is off to a good start
PADDY POWER AT THE SAUDI ARABIA CUP ANTE-POST
Taiba – 6/4
Country Grammer – 5/1
June Light Bolt – 5/1
Pantalosa – 8/1
Crown Pride – 10/1
Faraan Cafe – 16/1
Heraldic road – 16/1
Scotland Yard – 16/1
Geoglyph – 20/1
All odds provided by Paddy Power
*Odds shown are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means if your selection does not race for any reason you will lose your bet under traditional Antepost rules
“For his whole career, if he doesn’t win, he’s going to be in the top three, you know he’s going to do his Super Race.
“It’s the richest race in the world so it’s going to be tough, a lot of good competition, but he’s been there before so that’s a plus so I expect him to do well.
“If I said I was confident of winning, I’d be a fool because it’s a very tough race, but I know deep down that he’s going to give it everything he’s got.”
Dettori has two Group Three races before the show, riding Baffert’s three-year-old Havnameltdown and then the William Mott-trained Elite Power.
Chances to add even more success to an already brilliant career. Shortly after competing in the most lucrative race in the sport, he will be back in the air, flying to America via the UK.
Dettori has about two weeks left stateside before the big races in Dubai and the British racing schedule get underway.
“Santa Anita asked me to come and I thought why not. I didn’t expect to do so well, I didn’t expect to get this kind of support,” he said of his California winter.
“I didn’t plan it, it just happened.”
Dettori described the weight room as an “eternal capsule” when he spoke about his retirement intentions. He came out to make sure his final season is long remembered.