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Stable Stacks the Deck in Sires Cup Field

You could say that tonight’s $122,500 California Sires Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course will be a case of double trouble for much of the field.

That’s because a pair of horses from the Double Bar S Ranch are considered the favorites after they won qualifying heats two weeks ago. Fly Ta Me and Strawflyin Buds, both sired by Strawfly Special, are expected to go off as even favorites. They’re being trained by Dan Francisco of Huntington Beach, one of the hottest trainers at the track.

He’s also training Mrstrawflytoyou, winner of last month’s American Quarter Horse Assn. California Juvenile Challenge.

Francisco began as a trainer in 1970 and in 1991 conditioned Griswold to the first of three consecutive distance track titles. But shortly after 1991, Francisco, saying he was tired of the business, quit. He said a couple of owners were too slow to pay their bills.

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But by 1995, Francisco missed the horse business enough to get back into it with a four-horse barn.

“I would do some electrical work during the day and race my horses at night,” he said.

Eventually he signed on with the late Jens List of Double Bar S Ranch.

“He’s very consistent,” said Rhonda List, who runs the family’s 153-acre Moreno Valley ranch with her sister, Dawn. “He’s very quick to discover problems and remedy them.”

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Track majority owner Edward C. Allred saw two of his horses pull major upsets in the recent Governor’s Cup Derby. Fourth And Two and Don Callender finished 1-2, marking the first time since 1988 that horses owned by Allred have grabbed the two top spots in any race.

The heavy favorites, Luva Secret and Uncas, finished a fourth and fifth, respectively. They are owned by Spencer Childs and trained by Bob Gilbert.

“We just got beat,” Gilbert said. “Things like that happen sometimes.”

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Jockey Joe Badilla has been red hot. He won six consecutive races over a two-night period two weeks ago and later was aboard 1995 Champion Horse Winalota Cash when it captured the American Quarter Horse Assn. California Challenge.

Not to be outdone, jockey Alex Bauttista posed eight victories at Los Alamitos last weekend.

Badilla is the leading rider at the track this season. He is expected to be aboard Strawflyin Buds tonight.

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It has been a long time coming, but jockey Guillermo Gutierrez recently got his first quarter horse stakes win in nearly three years.

That Gutierrez is racing at all is surprising. He has been hampered by recurring shoulder problems, which required two surgeries to replace a pin that snapped out of place.

Gutierrez said he never gave the original shoulder injury, which occurred in a fall, time to heal. He attempted a couple of comebacks over the last two years, but missed most of the last two meetings.

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“I’ve had a tough time with injuries, but this is the strongest I’ve been since 1994,” he said. “I just feel really lucky to win another stakes race.”

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There are promotions, there are silly promotions and then there is the crazy idea Los Alamitos Promotions Director John Petti came up with.

Thursday afternoon, adjacent to the finish line, two women and 18 men carrying pillows, neck braces and boom boxes, put their lips to the hull of a 17-foot fishing boat. The one who puckers up the longest wins the boat.

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“We expect people to be kissing that boat until sometime Sunday,” Petti said. “I figure someone is going to lip lock that boat for 72 hours.”

The promotion is another in a series of attempts to attract more fans to the track. Six boxing matchesAug. 16 attracted a crowd of 3,247, an increase of more than 30% over average Saturday crowd. Petti said the track is considering putting on as many as four more boxing cards next year.

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California horses made a big impression at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico last weekend. Corona Cash captured the $1,591,017 All-American Futurity and Willie Wanta Dash won the All-American consolation race for quarter horses who did not post times fast enough to qualify for the Futurity. Corona Cash is expected to return to Los Alamitos to be groomed for Los Alamitos Million in December.

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