Flood Of Northern California Horses Swells Fields, Boosts Wagering During Los Alamitos Meet

Large fields, a record Pick 6 pool and payoff, and a fourth consecutive sweep of the Grade 1 Starlet and Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert were among the highlights of the 11-day Los Angeles County Fair Winter Thoroughbred meet, which concluded Sunday at Los Alamitos in Cypress, Calif.

Buoyed by an influx of more than 200 horses from Northern California – due to the current suspension of racing at Golden Gate Fields – the average field size for the season was nearly nine runners per race, compared to 6.97 for the 2019 Winter meet. There were 854 participants in 98 races during the season.

This led to a sizable boost in terms of business. The average daily handle on races run at Los Alamitos was up 36% over 2019 and average daily handle increased 20% on a comparable basis to last year’s Winter season.

“This meet was an unprecedented one,” said F. Jack Liebau, vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “In the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases in California and elsewhere, racing was conducted safely thanks to the excellent compliance by all participants with the preventative measures in place.

“As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak at Golden Gate Fields, trainers and caregivers were not permitted to accompany their horses to Southern California. Los Alamitos management and the connections of those horses from Northern California are indebted to the local trainers who stepped up and assumed the training and care of those thoroughbreds.

“Without their help, the meet would not have been as successful and the owners of the shippers from Northern California wouldn’t have had the opportunity to race.

“The Southern California Off-Site Stabling and Vanning Fund also helped mitigate this situation by covering the costs of transporting horses from Golden Gate to Southern California.  The efforts of many contributed to how well things went during these three weeks.”

A five-day Pick 6 carryover led to a record total Pick 6 pool – and payoff – Dec. 18. Chasing a carryover that had swelled to $423,178, bettors wagered $1,809,485 for a total pool of $2,232,663. The previous record of $1,558,329 was set Dec. 17, 2016.

There were six perfect tickets two days ago and each was worth $228,816, bettering the previous best of $110,732 Dec. 12, 2014.

Baffert’s latest successes in the Starlet and Los Alamitos Futurity were provided by, respectively, 17-1 shot Varda and 19-10 second choice Spielberg. The nose victory by Spielberg over 33-1 shot The Great One was Baffert’s seventh in a row in the Futurity and his 13th overall. He won it six times at Hollywood Park between 1997-2013.

The meet’s other graded stakes – the Grade 3, $100,000 Bayakoa – was captured by Proud Emma for trainer Peter Miller and owners Gem Inc. and Tom Kagele.

The two other stakes were for 2-year-olds bred or sired in California. Sensible Cat won the $100,000 Soviet Problem for Irvin Racing Stable and trainer Carla Gaines while 13-1 shot Play Chicken won the $100,000 King Glorious for owner-breeder J. Paul Reddam’s Reddam Racing LLC and trainer Doug O’Neill.

Baffert, O’Neill and Jonathan Wong shared the training title with five victories.

Baffert had the most wins (nine) for the year at Los Alamitos, combining the Winter meet with the Summer Thoroughbred Festival (June 27-July 5). O’Neill was second with eight and Steve Miyadi third with seven.

A closing day triple enabled Abel Cedillo to win the jockey title. He finished with 13 victories, one more than Juan Hernandez and two more than apprentice Jessica Pyfer.

For the year at Los Alamitos, Hernandez finished with 16 wins, one more than Cedillo. Edwin Maldonado was third with 13.

Daytime thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in 2021. The first of three meets is scheduled to begin Thursday, June 24 and continue through Sunday, July 4, followed by the Los Angeles County Fair season (Sept. 10-26) and the Winter meet (Dec. 2-12).

The post Flood Of Northern California Horses Swells Fields, Boosts Wagering During Los Alamitos Meet appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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