The final full meeting of the Southern California racing calendar starts and finishes in the next two weeks at Los Alamitos Race Course.
The eight-day meet, instituted in 2014 after the closure of Hollywood Park, is probably the strongest of the three Los Alamitos meets as far as having notable horses run in it. Two-time horse of the year California Chrome ran the penultimate race of his career during this meet at this track, which was also where trainer Art Sherman had him stabled.
Other recent winners during this meet include McKinzie, Mastery, Dortmund and Mor Spirit. The centerpiece to the meeting is Saturday, with two Grade 1 races — the Los Alamitos Futurity, for 2-year-olds, usually all males, and the Starlet Stakes, for 2-year-old females.
The Futurity has been won 10 times by trainer Bob Baffert, including all four runnings at Los Alamitos. He will have the presumptive favorite Saturday with Improbable, undefeated in two starts including a 7 ¼-length win in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. Improbable has the same ownership group that bought last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify.
Baffert should also be favored in the Starlet with Chasing Yesterday, winner of three of her four races. It’s likely to be a little more interesting than her last race, the Desi Arnaz Stakes, where a field of three went to post. Chasing Yesterday is the half-sister to Baffert’s other Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
There are two other stakes races at this meeting, both for Cal-bred 2-year-olds. On Sat. Dec. 15 will be the $100,000 Soviet Problem for fillies and the next day will be the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes, for open company.
Racing will be Thursday through Sunday, with weekday posts of 1 p.m. and a weekend post of 12:30 p.m. Thursday’s opening day card will have eight races with an average of 8.6 horses a race, a good improvement for a track that has had trouble with field sizes.
Los Alamitos will also have nighttime quarter-horse racing each Friday through Sunday.