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12 Days in Orange County

Posted by on 11/30/2015 8:31:28 PM

The season in Southern California is winding down and the second winter stand at Los Alamitos will open on December 3 and go for 12 glorious days until December 20.

The track was elongated to a mile and inherited the dates that used to belong to Fairplex and although it will not entice the best runners of the area, the races figure to be competitive with big fields and plenty of action.

Don’t expect the big guns to come firing for this meet but there should be plenty of opportunities for making money.

One thing bettors need to resist is bet off form from the recently concluded Del Mar meeting. Venues are different, objective change, trends and biases are new so be adaptable and give an edge especially early in the meet to runners that have excelled at Los Al or have worked well on the fast surface.

The surface itself plays fast in the mornings and the afternoon and although there is a long stretch, speed does very well.

And it has been well received by horsemen too including Triple Crown hero American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert: “I think it’s a plus this surface. It’s really soft. I send a lot of horses to train here as it’s a big plus.”

This track has gone through a metamorphous over the decades. Frank Vessels was the prime mover at Los Al. He came to California from Kentucky with $19 to his name but made a bundle in the construction business and parlayed that to buying a 435-acre ranch in 1947.

What started out modestly as just match races, turned into Los Alamitos Race Course in 1951.

The highlight of the meet will showcase the best juvenile still standing.

The Grade 1 $300,000 Starlet for baby fillies will go on December 12 while the boys will battle a week later in the Los Alamitos Futurity with $350,000 guaranteed as the carrot.

Some riders have done very well here on this particular surface. Although Draydon Van Dyke could not match strides with the money winner of the meet Rafael Bejarano or Martin Garcia he did finish first in winners during this meet last winter with 11 happy endings. Fernando Perez was right behind him and Edwin Maldonado cracked the top 3.

Bob Baffert , who else, won the training title here last winter but Phil D’Amato, the former assistant to Mike Mitchell, saddled a dozen fewer horses and missed tying Baffert by one winner.

Roberto Diodoro , who wins races around the country, saddled 15 at this winter meet a year ago and greeted 5 of them in the charmed circle.

As far as the racing style is concern, speed was king at the July meet despite the fact the stretch at Los Al is the longest in the country. If you didn’t have the ability to lead or be close up, you were at a definite disadvantage.

The fact that Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome thrived at Los Alamitos is something that must be respected. It goes to show that the surface is kind to horses and allows them to thrive without being overly taxed.

Try to gain a little momentum during this meeting, get a bankroll for Christmas and the best present the day after—the opening of Santa Anita.

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