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Turning Orange Into Green

Posted by on 6/29/2015 10:27:20 PM

Before there were Ducks or Angels in Anaheim and before there were Lakers or Dodgers in Los Angeles, Los Alamitos was conducting racing and the track will open for a sweet little stand starting July 2 and ending on July 12.

Frank Vessels Sr. came to California in 1920 from Kentucky with only $19 in his pocket but he founded Los Alamitos after his successful construction business allowed him to build a racetrack on a portion of his 435-acre Orange County ranch.

Successful Southern California trainer like Bob Baffert, Phil D’Amato, Robertino Diodoro, Brian Koriner andCalifornia Chrome’s mentor Art Sherman have been stabled at Los Al for a few seasons now and California Chrome’s trainer loved this surface the surface

Sherman : “The track surface at Los Alamitos is as good a racetrack as you will find anywhere in the country. It’s a wide big track and it will be beautiful to race on.”

Baffert is also on board, Baffert: “I think it’s a plus, that surface. It’s really soft. I send a lot of horses (to train at Los Alamitos). It’s a big plus.”

California Chrome is recuperating from an injury so he will miss this meeting but there will be plenty of quality runners aiming for glory.

The 8-days of racing kicks off opening day with a $75,000 stake called the Bertrando.

The meet will feature the Grade 2 $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby on July 4 and the Grade 2 $200,000 Great Lady M. a week later.

The track boasts a 1,380 homestretch, 34 feet longer than the homestretch at Fair Grounds. There have been cosmetic improvements too. The walking ring has been expanded and the winner’s circle has been remodeled. New barns have been constructed to so the capacity of the backstretch will increase from the 700 horses that can now be accommodated.

Sure, it was a small sample, but things can be gleaned from what happened at the fall meet at Los Al last year. Drawing inside is a good thing. Sprinting at the winter meet last year when breaking from the rail slot was huge. The 21% winning slate was the best of all the posts with 4 or more starts.

Breaking from post 9 and 10 sprinting last winter produced zero winners and the 8 slot was only 4 for 38.

Routing, was pretty much the same story. Only 2 of 35 starters won from post 5 and only 5 winners combined started from post 6 through 10.

One of the most misunderstood and important jobs on the racetrack is the starter. He is the man that pushes the button that allows the gates to open, the horses to run and the races to be brought to the public.

And Los Alamitos will have a new starter for the night races and it would be logical that after this summer meet, he will be the main man for the thoroughbreds in the future.

Former rider Gary Brinson, who was the head starter at Del Mar and Hollywood Park, has won in gate crews for 4 decades. One of the things Brinson has done, and others have followed, is to get to the ground to prepare the starters for a race. In years past, starters would stand on perch near the gate to have an overview of the loading process but being on the ground helps with communication.

Brinson will be in the background but he has a wealth of experience. He used to walk hots for his late father Ross and his dad won the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1947 with Cover Up.

Give a major edge to the runners that have been stabled at Los Alamitos. Just like when all meets change, runners that are acclimated to their current surroundings are more comfortable and usually run better.

And expect speed to be the prime force as soon as the gates open. This race is basically build for quarter horses and they can motor.

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