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L.A. County Fair thoroughbred racing meet to launch in December

Horses and jockeys charge down the track at Los Alamitos.
Los Alamitos Race Course will host the L.A. County Fair thoroughbred racing meet starting Friday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Fair thoroughbred racing meet will be held in December for the first time in almost 90 years when it opens Friday at Los Alamitos Race Course. The meeting had traditionally been in September during the fair, but the California Horse Racing Board gave those dates to Santa Anita this year when it realigned the schedule.

In 1933, pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in California, and that’s when the fair switched from exhibition racing to mostly thoroughbred racing that people could bet on. Races were run during the September fair at Fairplex Park until 2014, when the meeting was moved to Los Alamitos and the racetrack in Pomona was demolished. This year’s fair was canceled because of the coronavirus.

The meeting is 11 days starting Friday and continuing through Sunday before moving to a Thursday through Sunday schedule for the next two weeks. Weekday post is 1 p.m., and 12:30 p.m. on weekends.

There are three graded stakes and two ungraded during the meet. On Saturday will be the Grade 1 $300,000 Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles. The first four places get qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks, the female version of the Kentucky Derby.

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The five-horse race has two high-class runners in Princess Noor, a $1.35-million purchase, and Astute, who was bought for $425,000. Princess Noor won her first three races before finishing a disappointing fifth as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland on Nov. 6. Astute has won her first two races, including the Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar by 7½ lengths.

The other major stake is the Grade 2 $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 19. It’s for 2-year-olds and is also 1 1/16 miles and offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Until this year it was a Grade 1 race. It was likely downgraded because the field size has been small, something that could possibly happen to the Starlet.

The third graded stake is Sunday, the Grade 3 $100,000 Bayakoa for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. The remaining stakes are both one mile and for Cal-breds, the $100,000 Soviet Problem for fillies Dec. 12 and the King Glorious for open company on closing day, Dec. 20.

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Spectators will not be allowed at the track. Night quarter-horse and lower-level thoroughbred racing will also be held on the usual Friday through Sunday schedule.


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