While trainer James McArthur has been in the spotlight at Ruidoso Downs this year, McArthur's wife, Donna, has been making headlines at Los Alamitos with Temerity Wrangler, the third-fastest qualifier to the inaugural Los Alamitos Million.
The McArthurs have been involved with several good horses, including 1984 champion 2-year-old Eastex, the leading money-earning quarter horse until Refrigerator took over that spot last year. Most of their top horses have run under James McArthur's name, but Donna McArthur has worked with such noteworthy horses as 1975 world champion Easy Date and All American Derby winner Dickies Fireman.
For much of their 20 years of marriage the McArthurs have run a split stable, with one barn at Ruidoso Downs and one in Texas or Oklahoma. This year, for the first time since 1988, a McArthur is occupying a shed row at Los Alamitos.
"With the [Los Alamitos] Million coming up this year, we decided that one of us could come out here with these horses,' Donna McArthur said.
She came to California in September, bringing Tami Purcell, the all-time winningest female quarter horse jockey. McArthur would rather train in one area year round, but says that isn't feasible.
'Economically, it's better if you can stay in one place. [Los Alamitos) is basically the biggest, nicest, longest meet you can run at," she said, citing high purses as a major drawing point. "It would be nice if you could go to one place and stay there, but Texas isn't structured that way."
Temerity Wrangler made the trip worthwhile when he won the fourth of nine trials to the Los Alamitos Million. Ridden by Purcell, Temerity Wrangler covered the 400 yards in 19.94 seconds, defeating Dashin Hussy by 1 1/2 lengths.
Temerity Wrangler hadn't started since the All American Futurity trials in August, finishing third. After that he was gelded and sent to California.
McArthur is starting to feel the pressure of training a major stakes competitor, as Temerity Wrangler is the first one that hasn't been attributed to her husband.
"This one is kind of on my shoulders," she said. "It's fun, if I can handle it. When you lead one up there and they perform like you know they can, that's the best part."
Los Alamitos Notes
The 10 finalists for the $1,050,000 Los Alamitos Million, to be held Dec. 16: Free Thinker, Sky Chicks, Temerity Wrangler, Evening Snow, Chickawilla, Brisco County Jr, Drone, Take Odds, Mega Storm and Million Dollar Down. There will also be a consolation worth $25,000 on the same night. . . . Saturday's first post remains at 5:15 p.m. through the remainder of the meet.