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Shortage of horses forces Los Alamitos to cancel Thursday’s races

LOS ALAMITOS, CA - JULY 3, 2014: Thoroughbred horses bolt out of the starting gate in the first race
Thoroughbreds bolt out of the starting gate during a race at Los Alamitos in July 2014. Los Alamitos has had to cancel racing three times over the first three weeks of this year’s meeting.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Los Alamitos, stung by the shortage of horses in the wake of 30 fatalities at Santa Anita, has cancelled Thursday’s card because of a lack of entries. It is the third day that Los Alamitos has cancelled in its three-week meeting.

Well in advance of the its opening weekend, it cancelled Thursday and Friday racing and started on the weekend.

It’s not just Los Alamitos that has felt the lack of horses. Santa Anita spent the last half of its marathon season running only three days a week. Del Mar, which is scheduled to run Wednesday through Sunday, has three less races a week. Its new schedule calls for seven races each Wednesday and Thursday, eight each Friday and Sunday, and nine Saturday.

The average field size at Los Alamitos the first weekend was 6.7 horses per race. The average field size this weekend was 6.6. The average field size Thursday was 5.6 over only seven races. The weekend cards were nine races.

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Saturday was the largest purse race of the meeting, the Grade 2 $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes for fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs. Marley’s Freedom, winning her ninth race in 18 starts, repeated as the winner of the race. As the favorite, she stalked the pace and glided to an easy 1 3/4 length win.

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“We were hoping she would run like that,’’ said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “When [jockey Drayden Van Dyke] asked her to go he had a lot of horse. … I like coming here. Los Alamitos has a great surface and it is fair. Horses can win on the lead or from off the pace.’’

Marley’s Freedom paid $3.20 to win. Anonymity was second and Exuberance was third.

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