by Paulick Report
CYPRESS, CA (December 22, 2014)-Los Alamitos ended a successful first Winter Thoroughbred meet Sunday, averaging more than $5.64 million ($5,640,866) in daily total combined mutuel handle and showing a sizable gain in wagering out of state.
“This meet did exactly what we hoped it would do in that we continued to show growth, most particularly out-of-state handle,’’ said Brad McKinzie, vice president and general manager of the Los Alamitos Racing Association in Cypress, Calif. “Through Saturday (Dec. 20), we were up over $320,000 a day out of state if you look at the numbers from the (September) Fall meet to this meet ($1,850,163 in December compared to $1,526,553 three months earlier).
“We accomplished exactly what we set out to do. I’m happy.’’
Rainy weather contributed to a slight decline in average field size from the Fall meet, but the average of 7.46 starters per race was up over the Summer Thoroughbred Festival (6.99 starters) in July.
The highlights of the 12-day Winter season were Grade I victories by Take Charge Brandi in the $350,500 Starlet Dec. 13 and Dortmund in the $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity one week later.
Those significant races for 2-year-olds were holdovers from Hollywood Park, which ceased live racing Dec. 22, 2013. The Starlet was known as the Hollywood Starlet (1981-2013) and the Los Alamitos Futurity as the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013).
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for owner Willis D. Horton, Take Charge Brandi, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway, wrapped up the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly with her second Grade I success in a span of six weeks. She began a roll of three consecutive graded victories – she also won the Grade III, $500,000 Delta Princess Nov. 22 at Delta Downs – with a 61-1 upset in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Under jockey Victor Espinoza, Take Charge Brandi was game in repelling all challengers in the final quarter of a mile, but the Los Alamitos Futurity was arguably 2014’s Race of the Year.
After a three-way battle down the stretch, Dortmund, the 3-5 favorite and current future book favorite for the 2015 Kentucky Derby, remained undefeated in his third start, defeating Firing Line by a head with the Lukas-trained Mr. Z a nose back in third.
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Dortmund, a son of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh Futurity win.
Baffert and Lukas, who has won a record eight Starlets, became the first trainers to win both a thoroughbred and Quarter horse Grade I event at Los Alamitos.
“If the Starlet and the Los Alamitos Futurity don’t give us credibility around the country that we are running quality races, I don’t know what will,’’ said McKinzie. “(Multiple stakes winner) Shared Belief won our first (Grade II, $500,500 Los Alamitos) Derby (July 5), the filly that’s going to be the Eclipse Award winner (Take Charge Brandi) won the Starlet and I think in the Futurity we created one, two and possibly three solid contenders for the Kentucky Derby.’’
Thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in July, 2015.
The second Summer Thoroughbred Festival, which will begin Thursday, July 2, and continue through Sunday, July 12, is the first of three scheduled meets in the coming year.
The Fall season will commence Thursday, Sept. 10 and conclude Sunday, Sept. 25 while the Winter meet begins Thursday, Dec. 3 and wraps Sunday, Dec. 20.