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Short and Sweet

Posted by on 9/3/2015 10:27:57 PM

After all the margaritas have been imbibed, after all the bad tickets have been torn up and after the last night of partying at Del Mar, the racing action in Southern California will shift to Los Alamitos in Orange County for a 10-day stand starting September 10 through September 25.

The track was elongated to a mile to accommodate a fairer surface and the track plays fast, unlike the deeper Del Mar surface.

On a personal note, this was one of my favorite press boxes to visit and play the horses. The ambiance was great, the bar was well stocked, the betting windows were easily approached and it was more of like playing the horses in your living room rather than at a live racetrack.

My first visit to the track was in 1977 when they held a short meeting in the fall and the racing was more about tough handicapping than quality.

This has been quite a change for this track. 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. And this came long before the Ducks and the Angels were in Anaheim and a long time before the Lakers and the Dodgers ruled the roost.

A small but representative stakes schedule will be offered. The schedule includes three races for juveniles. The $75,000 Contender will be offered of September 13, the $100,000 Barretts Debutante for fillies goes 6 days later and on September 20 the boys get their shot in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile.

As far as the track is concerned, give an extra look to horses that have been stabled at Los Alamitos or have done well on the surface. The times will be quick and they will have to be adjusted from the Del Mar numbers.

Although it is a long way from the top of the lane to the wire, speed horses seem to do very well at this track. It can be just too much to ask for a horse to concede double-digit lengths and come from the clouds.

Last year Kent Desormeaux opted to ride at this meet at Los Al and he was awesome. He won with 7 of his 21 mounts and his starters earned more cash than any other rider.

Draydon Van Dyke ended up as the leading rider, beating Fernando Perez by just one winner. Aaron Gryder made the most of his starts, as did Iggy Puglisi, who won with 4 of his 13 mounts.

Trainer Doug O’Neill did it by numbers. He sent out more runners than any other conditioner and was tied as leading trainer withMike Puype. Leonard Powell had pointed to the Los Al meet last year and won with 3 of his 4 starters while Brian Koriner watched 5 of his 12 starters return to the winner’s circle.

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