Los Alamitos Race Course will conduct what is essentially the last race meeting of the year-long California thoroughbred season when the track holds a seven-day meeting starting Friday.
After the meet is the only scheduled break in the year, when there are 10 days with no racing before Santa Anita opens its marathon winter/spring meeting starting Dec. 26.
Despite the paucity of racing days, the meet does have significant stakes Saturday with the Grade 1 $300,000 Starlet for 2-year-old fillies, and the Grade 2 $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity for 2-year-olds. The Los Alamitos Futurity has been a launching point for horses headed to the Kentucky Derby. Last year’s winner, Improbable, was the betting favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby and finished fifth.
The Futurity has been run five times at Los Alamitos and was previously held at now-demolished Hollywood Park and had winners such as Snow Chief, A.P. Indy, Real Quiet, Point Given and Shared Belief. This year the race was downgraded from a Grade 1 to Grade 2, mostly because of a series of small fields. This year’s Futurity has four entrants.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Futurity 11 times, including all five at Los Alamitos. Saturday’s race has the second- and third-place finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Anneau d’Or for trainer Blaine Wright and Wrecking Crew for Peter Miller. Baffert has the other two colts in the race, Thousand Words and High Velocity.
The Starlet also has the second- and third-place finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies: Donna Veloce for Simon Callaghan and Bast for Baffert. Bast has won two Grade 1s in her four-race career.
Returning to Los Alamitos for the first time since 2005 will be race caller Michael Wrona. He will call the thoroughbred meets and, starting Dec. 27, will take over the night racing from longtime quarter horse announcer Ed Burgart, who is retiring.
Next year, Los Alamitos will be reduced from eight thoroughbred weeks to five, with a three-week December meet under the auspices of the L.A. County Fair. It will be the first time in more than 70 years that the Fair meeting has not been held in September. The reduction in dates was opposed by Los Alamitos.