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LOS ALAMITOS : Apprehend Makes Debut Tonight

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When the 2-year-old colt Apprehend left Los Alamitos after the 1989 winter season, it was certainly no big deal. Apprehend had won only one of nine starts and certainly wasn’t considered anything special.

But there will be a great deal of attention paid to the son of Merridoc when he makes his 1990 local debut in tonight’s trials for the Grade I Los Alamitos Derby.

It will be a new and improved Apprehend headlining the first division of the trials. The rangy sorrel, who left Los Alamitos last winter as a colt with only $18,704 in career earnings, returns tonight as a gelding with $218,264 to his credit.

Apprehend has padded his bank account with victories in the El Primero Del Ano Derby and the Golden State Derby, a pair of Grade I races held at the recently concluded Bay Meadows quarter horse meeting in Northern California.

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According to his trainer Daryn Charlton, the key to success was the gelding of the colt.

“Last year as a 2-year-old, he had his mind on other things besides racing,” Charlton said. “Now . . . all he has to think about is racing.”

Tonight’s trials have drawn entries from 21 3-year-olds. The 10 fastest qualifiers will earn spots in the final of this 440-yard race May 12.

Apprehend figures to be the horse to beat, but will be bucking a great deal of history as he goes for his third stakes win.

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In the last 20 years, only one horse, the champion Sgt. Pepper Feature, has been able to follow a victory in the Golden State Derby with one in the Los Alamitos Derby.

That doesn’t seem to faze the 26-year-old Charlton, who leads the national money standings for quarter horse trainers.

“The way it is with this horse is that if he breaks, he beats them,” Charlton said. “If he don’t, he won’t.”

Apprehend’s main derby rival figures to be a filly he will race in his derby trial, Dashin Dee Dee, a multiple stakes winner

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A winner of $208,000, Dashin Dee Dee and Apprehend have both drawn the first division of the trials, which will be run as tonight’s sixth race.

In a decision that has horsemen buzzing, trainer H.L. Hooper has been fined $1,000 by the Los Alamitos stewards and suspended for 15 days for failure to bring the horse Too Tall Yawl to the receiving barn for a race at the Bay Meadows quarter horse meet April 6.

During the suspension, which begins Thursday, Hooper is denied access to the grounds at Los Alamitos and he will not be allowed to enter horses in any race at the track.

At the heart of the matter is the condition of the Bay Meadows track. All during the recent quarter horse meeting there, horsemen complained about what they said was an uneven surface that favored any horse running in one of the inside post positions.

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When Hooper’s horse drew the No. 8 post April 6, the trainer went to the stewards and told them he would not run the horse over that part of the track.

Because only eight horses were entered, there were no scratches allowed, so when Hooper failed to bring Too Tall Yawl up for the race, he was in violation of a California Horse Racing Board rule prohibiting failure to run an entered horse.

“I was just doing what I thought was best for the horse,” said Hooper. “I had injured two other 2-year-olds running on the outside of that track and I didn’t want to hurt another one.”

Jockey Danny Cardoza is among those who say that the condition of the track should have been taken into consideration in the ruling on Hooper.

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“This year, the track at Bay Meadows was as bad as any track I’ve ever ridden on, and I’ve been riding since 1968,” Cardoza said. “Hooper is the wrong guy to suspend. They should have suspended the guy taking care of the track at Bay Meadows.”

Hooper indicated that he would not appeal the decision and will begin serving his suspension Thursday.

Jockey Kip Didericksen is leading the Los Alamitos jockey standings with 10 victories but it is doubtful that any of them were as memorable as his fourth-place finish aboard Dash for Time in the $20,000 Leo Handicap on Friday.

Considered one of the top 2-year-olds on the West Coast, Dash for Time was leading the 350-yard race when she decided to make an abrupt right turn about 200 yards from the wire.

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She had broken from the outside post in the 10-horse field and by the time she hit the halfway mark was racing within inches of the outside rail.

With Didericksen doing all he could to keep Dash for Time from falling over the outside fence, the filly still managed to get fourth, just a neck behind winner Miss Strikin Jet.

“I couldn’t let her run a jump the last 200 yards and she still only gets beat a neck,” said a relieved Didericksen after the Leo. “I was thinking of jumping off but I couldn’t figure out anywhere to land. Besides, she’s a good filly and I didn’t want her going over the rail.”

Quarter Horse Notes

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For quarter horse fans, insomniacs or both, the replays of the Los Alamitos races will be shown each racing night this summer between 12:30 and and 1 a.m. on Prime Ticket. The show’s host is Steve Arthur. . . . A record triple payoff of $26,979.70 was paid to one unidentified triple-ticket bettor last Friday at Los Alamitos after he had correctly selected The Dream Date, which paid $23.40 in the 10th race; Miss Strikin Jet, $19.60 in the 11th race, and Coda Lark, $43.20 in the 12th.


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