Racing! It’s time to start the Los Alamitos winter meet

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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.

Final thought

Still looking to jump the circulation of this newsletter. Can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, then you’re probably not reading this. Either way, send to a friend and just have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more.

Any thoughts, drop me an email at my new address 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.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Hot PerfectionTyler Baze122
2It's Just BobBrayan Pena124
3Uptown StreetJuan Sanchez122
4Vodka Texted YouEdgar Orozco124
5Pray HardEvin Roman119
6ProudtobesicilianBrandon Boulanger122


6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Logan's MoonEvin Roman11732,000
2New KarmaTyler Conner12232,000
3Best Two MinutesRafael Bejarano12432,000
4Well MeasuredTyler Baze12232,000
5Chief of StaffStewart Elliott12232,000
6Los BorrachosEdwin Maldonado12232,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1ChiquilinEfrain Hernandez12250,000
2Heat Things UpSasha Risenhoover12250,000
3Luke's On FireJoseph Talamo12250,000
4CatabilityMatt Garcia12250,000
5Time for CioppinoKyle Frey11840,000
6Retts GloryEvin Roman11340,000
7Papa CaballeroStewart Elliott12250,000
8LipsterEdwin Maldonado11840,000
9Big Bad GaryBrandon Boulanger12250,000
10AutismonefortyfiveJuan Sanchez12250,000


1 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Picture TubeRosie Higgins11412,500
2Midnight HarborJuan Ochoa12112,500
3Proud of Our KidsEvin Roman11712,500
4Go GhettoSaul Arias12412,500
5Gotta Get LuckyStewart Elliott12412,500
6Cammy's MusicRuben Fuentes11010,500
7Pick OneJohnny Allen12212,500
8My Golden OneAlonso Quinonez12412,500


5 Furlongs. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $8,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Cat From IraqJuan Sanchez1248,000
2Shining HopeKyle Frey1248,000
3Wow Its HotMinor Arana1228,000
4CarulliMarcial Ramirez1248,000
5Julia's SummerRosie Higgins1148,000
6BargainingBrayan Pena1248,000
7Our NationRuben Fuentes1178,000
8Dramatic AngelVinnie Bednar1248,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1OpticKent Desormeaux122
2GoodwillambassadorEdwin Maldonado122
3Salsa KingBrandon Boulanger122
4Shanghai BillyRafael Bejarano122
5Grand AirTiago Pereira122
6SolteroDrayden Van Dyke122
7Gem of a GuyEvin Roman117
8Alternate RhythmTyler Baze122
9Jonny Be BuenoKyle Frey122
10VisionMike Smith122
Also Eligible
11KanthakaEdwin Maldonado122


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $12,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Sassy RoseSasha Risenhoover1226,250
2SallyanaKyle Frey1246,250
3KuuipoMinor Arana1246,250
4Blooming HannahBrandon Boulanger1246,250
5I'm No PatsySaul Arias1246,250
6Irish and LuckyEfrain Hernandez1246,250
7CheeseErick Garcia1246,250
8Forthe Lovof PattyVinnie Bednar1226,250
9Smil'n From AboveBrayan Pena1246,250
10Torre ItalianaEdgar Payeras1146,250


1 Mile. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $8,000-$7,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtClaim $
1Bow and ArrowBrayan Pena1198,000
2Lucky PatrickGeovanni Franco1218,000
3Summer BuddhaAlonso Quinonez1198,000
4Mr. AraizaEdgar Payeras1097,000
5HarrovianTyler Baze1198,000
6I Crushed ItTyler Conner1198,000
7Do Some MagicFelipe Martinez1218,000
8Alpha UnoSaul Arias1198,000
9Big Bad BatmanSalvador Iniguez1197,000