Racing! It’s time to start the Los Alamitos winter meet
Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we take our first look at the Los Alamitos thoroughbred meeting.
Today’s newsletter allows us to break our maiden on the Los Alamitos thoroughbred meeting. It’s pretty much like the other two they hold during the year — Thursday through Sunday with a 1 p.m. PT post on Thursday and Friday and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
It lasts for three weeks (or 12 racing days) before a merciful week off until Santa Anita gets going on Dec. 26.
The best day to go will be Saturday, Dec. 9, when there will be a couple of Grade 1 races. The highlight of the meeting is the $300,000 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, which used to be run at Hollywood Park.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race nine times, including the last three years with Dortmund and Mor Spirit, both of whom ran in the Kentucky Derby, and last year with Mastery, who would have likely been the favorite in the Derby if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
The word futurity is the tip-off it’s for 2-year-olds.
That same day is the $300,000 Starlet, which is the same as the Los Al Futurity except it’s for fillies.
There is one more graded stakes in the meeting, this Sunday, with the Grade 2 $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up.
If you’re a turf trainer, time to go on holiday as Los Al has no turf course. But it does have the longest homestretch in the country at 1,380 feet, or 34 feet longer than the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, which used to own that title.
There are two ungraded stakes, both for Cal-breds: the $100,000 Soviet Problem for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday and the $100,000 King Glorious, also for 2-year-olds, on Dec. 16.
Los Alamitos is a fun place to visit if you don’t mind stepping into a time machine. It’s got the quaintness of the ‘80s, when the quarter-horse track was a big deal. It’s not the Del Mar crowd, that’s for sure, and you can buy a meal without taking out a second on your house.
The track in northern Orange County exists solely because owner Ed (Doc) Allred loves racing. Ignoring the real estate economics, he makes only a fraction of what he could if he sold the land. He’s never gotten the credit he deserves for his contribution to racing in Southern California.
One thing it needs is a nickname. You’ve got the Great Race Place and where the Turf Meets the Surf. If you’ve got an idea for Los Al, send it along.
Enough from me, give it a try, I think you’ll enjoy.
Los Alamitos preview
OK, now that I’ve extolled the virtues of Los Al, we need to talk about their pedestrian opening day card. I will say this is a perfect card for a track of Los Alamitos’ size and stature, but if you’re looking for established, high-quality racing, those horses are resting up for Santa Anita. Here’s where you might see the stars of the future before they get famous.
It’s an eight-race card with the best race being the sixth, a 5½-furlong maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds. This is the kind of race a star could emerge from, you never know. It carries the high purse of the day of $40,000. There are 10 starters with one also eligible. A lot of eyes will be on Vision, running for Baffert and ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. There is another Hall of Fame rider in there, Kent Desormeaux, aboard Optic for his brother Keith.
Six of the races are claimers and the first is a starter allowance.
Los Al handicapper
We introduce our Los Alamitos thoroughbred handicapper today and he is a familiar name, Mark Ratzky. Mark has been around Southern California tracks for quite a while working for both the Daily Racing Form and Los Alamitos. However, for the next three weeks he’ll be sharing his insights with you. Bob Ike will be back for the 17-month (or it just seems that long) Santa Anita season.
Mark Ratzky’s LRC play of the day
SIXTH RACE: No. 11 Vision (5-2)
Baffert isn’t afraid to debut a good one in Orange County (Arrogate comes immediately to mind) and this son of Orb fetched $500,000 at auction in March while mom was a double stakes winner at 2. Should have a nice foundation off those last few Santa Anita works, has Smith guiding and a cozy post.
Mark Ratzky worked for 22 years for the Daily Racing Form and has been the simulcast announcer/publicity at Los Alamitos for the past 19 years.
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Any thoughts, drop me an email at my new address firstname.lastname@example.org or feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa
And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.
Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Thursday, November 30.
Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 1st day of a 12-day meet.
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.
|1||Hot Perfection||Tyler Baze||122|
|2||It's Just Bob||Brayan Pena||124|
|3||Uptown Street||Juan Sanchez||122|
|4||Vodka Texted You||Edgar Orozco||124|
|5||Pray Hard||Evin Roman||119|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.
|1||Logan's Moon||Evin Roman||117||32,000|
|2||New Karma||Tyler Conner||122||32,000|
|3||Best Two Minutes||Rafael Bejarano||124||32,000|
|4||Well Measured||Tyler Baze||122||32,000|
|5||Chief of Staff||Stewart Elliott||122||32,000|
|6||Los Borrachos||Edwin Maldonado||122||32,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.
|2||Heat Things Up||Sasha Risenhoover||122||50,000|
|3||Luke's On Fire||Joseph Talamo||122||50,000|
|5||Time for Cioppino||Kyle Frey||118||40,000|
|6||Retts Glory||Evin Roman||113||40,000|
|7||Papa Caballero||Stewart Elliott||122||50,000|
|9||Big Bad Gary||Brandon Boulanger||122||50,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.
|1||Picture Tube||Rosie Higgins||114||12,500|
|2||Midnight Harbor||Juan Ochoa||121||12,500|
|3||Proud of Our Kids||Evin Roman||117||12,500|
|4||Go Ghetto||Saul Arias||124||12,500|
|5||Gotta Get Lucky||Stewart Elliott||124||12,500|
|6||Cammy's Music||Ruben Fuentes||110||10,500|
|7||Pick One||Johnny Allen||122||12,500|
|8||My Golden One||Alonso Quinonez||124||12,500|
5 Furlongs. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $8,000.
|1||Cat From Iraq||Juan Sanchez||124||8,000|
|2||Shining Hope||Kyle Frey||124||8,000|
|3||Wow Its Hot||Minor Arana||122||8,000|
|5||Julia's Summer||Rosie Higgins||114||8,000|
|7||Our Nation||Ruben Fuentes||117||8,000|
|8||Dramatic Angel||Vinnie Bednar||124||8,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds.
|3||Salsa King||Brandon Boulanger||122|
|4||Shanghai Billy||Rafael Bejarano||122|
|5||Grand Air||Tiago Pereira||122|
|6||Soltero||Drayden Van Dyke||122|
|7||Gem of a Guy||Evin Roman||117|
|8||Alternate Rhythm||Tyler Baze||122|
|9||Jonny Be Bueno||Kyle Frey||122|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $12,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.
|1||Sassy Rose||Sasha Risenhoover||122||6,250|
|4||Blooming Hannah||Brandon Boulanger||124||6,250|
|5||I'm No Patsy||Saul Arias||124||6,250|
|6||Irish and Lucky||Efrain Hernandez||124||6,250|
|8||Forthe Lovof Patty||Vinnie Bednar||122||6,250|
|9||Smil'n From Above||Brayan Pena||124||6,250|
|10||Torre Italiana||Edgar Payeras||114||6,250|
1 Mile. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $8,000-$7,000.
|1||Bow and Arrow||Brayan Pena||119||8,000|
|2||Lucky Patrick||Geovanni Franco||121||8,000|
|3||Summer Buddha||Alonso Quinonez||119||8,000|
|4||Mr. Araiza||Edgar Payeras||109||7,000|
|6||I Crushed It||Tyler Conner||119||8,000|
|7||Do Some Magic||Felipe Martinez||121||8,000|
|8||Alpha Uno||Saul Arias||119||8,000|
|9||Big Bad Batman||Salvador Iniguez||119||7,000|
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