Last year, Bright As Day and True Tyrant were two of the best young pacers on Canada's Edmonton-Calgary circuit.
True Tyrant was undefeated in 12 starts, and Bright As Day's only loss in seven 1991 races was a second place behind True Tyrant in September's $50,000 Primary Stakes at Calgary's Stampede Park. This spring, both colts have brought their winning records to the Southland and are being readied for the top race of the Los Alamitos spring harness meeting, the $250,000 Shelly Goudreau Memorial Pace for 3-year-olds on April 25.
Both True Tyrant and Bright As Day were winners Saturday night against older horses. True Tyrant won the ninth race, pacing a mile in 1:55 3/5 for his 13th consecutive victory. The colt, who was sired by Tyrant, was driven by Terry Kerr. True Tyrant, who paid only $2.80, prepped over the Los Alamitos track on March 4 with a 32-length victory in a qualifying race.
"It was like a training mile," Kerr said.
For Olli Lehtola, 62, a native of Finland who lives in Calgary, True Tyrant represents a lifetime in the horse business. "I hope he gets better," said Lehtola, who owns True Tyrant's 19-year-old dam, Lady Willoway. "He might be a little faster when he gets a couple of starts."
Bright As Day was also an impressive winner Saturday, pacing a mile in 1:56. The colt, by Troublemaker, is owned by Donald Richardson of Calgary.
"He's the best I've ever owned," Richardson said. "We've got him paid into the North American Cup (a $1-million race at Greenwood near Toronto on June 20). We'll just take it a race at a time."
Other recent winners eligible for the Goudreau are All That Rhythm and You Better You Bet, noses apart in Saturday's $20,000 California Sires Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Other locally based Goudreau candidates who started last week include Just A Mene, who won his first North American start last Wednesday after losing his first five races in New Zealand; Skytel, who won a qualifying race Saturday and might start this week; Vacationing, a finalist in tonight's $22,500 Anaheim Series, and Jammin Almahurst.
Five Aces, another Goudreau nominee, was third to Skytel last week in a qualifying race.
Jim Perez, who at 25 is one of the top young trainers at Los Alamitos, has a lightly raced 3-year-old, PA War Zone, who finished third Thursday after winning his debut impressively on March 5. "He has a little throat infection," Perez said. "It's no excuse, but I'll give him a week off."
Because of a large carryover in the twin trifecta pool, last week's mutuel handle was not only the biggest of the season, but also in the 2 1/2 years since Lloyd Arnold, president of the Los Alamitos Racing Assn., took control of the track.
Average daily handle for the four-day week was $1,092,961, including a meet high of $1,291,703 Saturday night. The average for the meeting is $945,620, considerably higher than the average of $787,668 last year, when there were five programs a week.
"This week has been a tremendous success," Arnold said. "It's the best week since November 1989 in terms of handle, so I have to be happy."
After last Wednesday's card, the twin trifecta carryover pool was $115,952, which had to be paid out Thursday since the carryover had exceeded $100,000. The wager was introduced to California horse racing at Los Alamitos on Feb. 5, and has proved to be a success even without large carryovers. The carryover for tonight's program is $22,585.
Los Alamitos Notes
The husband-and-wife driving and training team of Tim and Denise Maier swept the Invitational class races last weekend. Friday, Cool Charm Girl won the Invitational Pace for fillies and mares in 1:55 3/5, and Saturday, Positron won in 1:53 2/5. . . . Tonight's fourth race is the final one in the $22,500 Anaheim Series for colts and geldings, and Thursday's fourth race is the $22,500 finale of the Garden Grove Series for fillies and mares.
The two top trotters of last year's meeting, Mad Milton and Magic Moose, will renew their rivalry in tonight's 11th race, a $15,000 Invitational Trot. Magic Moose, an 8-year-old gelding, has won two of three starts this year but was sixth in last week's Invitational Trot after a three-week layoff. Mad Milton, a 4-year-old gelding, was second in qualifiers the last two Wednesdays. He hasn't raced since being disqualified from second to seventh place in an open handicap at Balmoral, near Chicago, in September. Last year, Mad Milton won 10 of 18 starts and more than $100,000.
Through Saturday, Ross Croghan is the leading driver with 45 victories, three more than Steve Warrington. . . . Joe Anderson, last year's leader who didn't begin driving at this meeting until Feb. 19, is in fifth place with 21 victories. He won four races Friday. . . . Rick Kuebler won four races Wednesday. . . . Robert Gordon remains atop the trainers' standings with 46 victories, eight more than Tim Diliberto.