Los Alamitos Notebook : Easy Austin Wins Laddie Handicap at Los Alamitos
Although a new group of 2-year-old quarter horses will make their big-money stakes debut in the $600,000 Kindergarten at Los Alamitos Race Course next Saturday, this weekend concluded with a pair of stakes races featuring some of the country’s top 3-year-olds.
Saturday night in the $54,500 Laddie Handicap, Easy Austin, with Kenny Hart aboard, held off Win Apollo in the closing yards to win by a head. Easy Austin covered the 400-yard distance in 19.98 seconds.
Friday night in the $54,400 Lassie Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, Artesia upset the 1984 champion 2-year-old filly, and betting favorite, Sixy Chick.
Artesia, trained by Russell Harris, defeated Sixy Chick by a half-length in a time of 19:90 seconds for 400 yards. Artesia, a consistent qualifier to the major stakes races as a 2-year-old, usually just missed the win. This year, Artesia finished second in the Pacific Handicap, third in the Burke Futurity and fourth in the Golden State Derby in April.
The win capped a riding quadruple for leading jockey John Creager, who broke a short slump after suffering a broken jaw earlier in the week during a pickup softball game. He had not won a race since suffering the injury, and had to have his jaw wired shut Wednesday in order to fulfill his seven riding commitments in the Kindergarten trials that same night.
Sixy Chick finished a head in front of the early leader, Ettagos Express, a 44-1 shot, which led the field until the last 40 yards of the 400-yard race. Shawns Pawn, with Tomey Swan riding, finished fourth.
The $31,900 winner’s share of the Lassie purse pushed Artesia to nearly $290,000 in lifetime earnings. Harris, who also trains Los Alamitos Derby winner Prissy Fein, said Artesia would stay at Los Alamitos for the June 26 trials to the Dash For Cash Derby, which will be run July 6.
More than 86 quarter horses were entered in Wednesday’s trials to the $600,000 Kindergarten, the first leg of the Los Alamitos Triple Crown for 2-year-olds. The 10 fastest qualifiers will advance to the finals of the 350-yard event, which will be run June 15. The next 10 fastest runners will face off in the Kindergarten Consolation, also run next Saturday night.
The richest series for 2-year-olds on the West Coast also features the $1 million (est.) Dash For Cash Futurity on July 13 and the $1 million (est.) Los Alamitos Futurity on Aug. 10. In the four-year history of the Triple Crown, no horse has ever swept all three legs.
The results of the trials to the Kindergarten finals are: Gone To The Man (17:74 seconds), Stars In Her Crown (17:75), Racin Image (17:80), Life Styles (17:84), Solvency (17:84), Dashin Saint (17:87), Reign Splash (17:88), Fly In The Pie (17:89), Six Fortunes (17:89) and Call Me Parr (17:91).
Trainer C.W. “Bubba” Cascio, who has never won the Kindergarten, qualified four horses for the final. Cascio’s entrants are Gone To The Man, Racin Image, Dashin Saint and Six Fortunes. All were ridden by Bruce Pilkenton, who will have to decide which horse he wants in the final.
Second-leading qualifier, Stars In Her Crown, which won the Leo Handicap last month over favored Life Styles, is trained by Bruce Bell. Bell has started only two horses at the summer meeting. Bell’s other horse, Universal Miss, also went in the trials and failed to qualify.
Los Alamitos’ all-time leading trainer, Blane Schvaneveldt, will try for his fifth Kindergarten win with a pair of starters, Life Styles and Reign Splash. Reign Splash was claimed for $20,000 last month and will repay Jack Williams in full with a strong showing Saturday. Williams put up $11,700 to enter her in the 350-yard contest.
Call Me Parr and Doluino, a pair of California-breds, finished .005 seconds apart in qualifying for the final Kindergarten berth. Call Me Parr, who won the Bardella Handicap last month, received the berth.
Among those in the Kindergarten consolation, which also will be run Saturday night, are: Victory Dash, a full brother to Dashs Dream; undefeated Rocky Jones, and another two from the Cascio barn, Easy Brace and Dixieland Jet. Rounding out the field are Sticks An Stones, Old Swale, Gulfport Queen, Zircon and Mykonos Gold.
Quarter Horse Notes
Jockey James Lackey, a fixture in the top 10 jockey standings at Los Alamitos, snapped a 52-race slump when he rode Apollo John to victory in last Monday evening’s seventh race. The rider’s last win came on May 18 when he rode Cash Rate to victory in the Shue Fly Handicap.