Los Al to Request TB Dates

Los Alamitos seeks to expand to accomodate Thoroughbred racing.

September 12, 2013

Los Alamitos

Representatives of Los Alamitos Race Course will make an official request for the allocation of daytime Thoroughbred race dates for 2014 and 2015 at the next meeting of the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday, September 19.

Pending the approval by the California Horse Racing Board, Los Alamitos Race Course will conduct five weeks of first class Thoroughbred racing each year highlighted by a lucrative stakes schedule. It is anticipated that several historic Hollywood Park races will be conducted as part of the meet. The five weeks of Thoroughbred racing in 2014 would be split between a two week summer meeting (July 3-13) and a three week winter meeting (December 4-21).

“We’re going to run both programs the same day. … which will make it a long day,” Los Alamitos' owner Dr. Ed Allred told the Q-Racing Journal’s Richard Chamberlain. “But we will get additional people here, plenty of people farmed out from other sources. … We will have a Thoroughbred racing secretary on loan, probably from Del Mar or Santa Anita.”

The purse structure for the Thoroughbred meet is expected to be less than Hollywood Park, but better than the one they use at Fairplex Park in Pomona. Thoroughbred racing would be conducted on a Thursday through Sunday basis with the summer meeting featuring racing on Friday, July 4. In addition, Los Alamitos will continue to conduct Quarter Horse racing concurrently with this new Thoroughbred meet. Los Alamitos is the home of year-round racing and Quarter Horse racing’s richest stakes schedule in the nation, highlighted by the $2 million Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.  

Plans call for the existing 5/8th oval at Los Alamitos to be expanded to one mile and will include the widening of the turns to accommodate Thoroughbred horsemen, according to Allred.

Construction would begin as soon as permits were in place. The existing track will function throughout the process. Construction is expected to continue through the end of this December, including 24-hour, round-the-clock work during the week the track is closed for Christmas.

The track will build 200 additional stalls for Quarter Horses. There will be a total of 700 stalls for Thoroughbreds and 900 for Quarter Horses.

"The Thoroughbred stalls will be assigned by Santa Anita, who will be responsible for allocating those stalls on a year-round basis, not just when they race,” Allred said.

There is no turf course planned as part of this track expansion.   

“I signed a contract with representatives of Santa Anita and the Thoroughbred Owners of California on Wednesday and this deal will be presented to the CHRB at its next meeting,” Allred said. “Los Alamitos will add stalls to its barn area, as we will stable about 700 additional Thoroughbred horses. Los Alamitos will also be available as a year-round training facility.”        
 
“This project is being done in cooperation with Santa Anita, Del Mar and the TOC,” Los Alamitos spokesman Brad McKinzie added. “There is unlimited potential for daytime Thoroughbred racing in beautiful Orange County with the sport being showcased to a great, new fan base. This is also great for Quarter Horse racing as it will expose the breed to a whole new audience. It is important to note that while Los Alamitos currently races Thoroughbreds at distances of 4 ½ furlongs or less, this new meeting will not be limited to those distances. This will be a top meet and the plan is to attract all of the top barns from around the nation with an impressive stakes schedule, top purses in allowance races and more.”

Los Alamitos annually ranks as a leading daytime satellite facility in terms of handle in California, especially on major racing days like Kentucky Derby Day and on the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Earlier this year, Los Alamitos handled a total of $1,952,913 on the Thoroughbred simulcast program on Kentucky Derby Day. The Derby Day handle was the highest among all California satellite facilities, even higher than that at Santa Anita. Only Hollywood Park, which was hosting a live daytime Thoroughbred race card, had a bigger handle than Los Alamitos on Kentucky Derby Day. Los Alamitos was also the top satellite facility in California on Breeders’ Cup Day 2012 with $1,463,894. Only Santa Anita, which was the Breeders’ Cup host track, had a higher handle in California.  
    
“The potential is there to make the Los Alamitos meet a top destination for Thoroughbred horsemen everywhere,” McKinzie added. “We will be requesting five weeks of racing at the next CHRB meeting and we have every reason to believe that they will be approved and every reason to believe that these dates will be ours in the years to come.”

From 1978 through 1980, Los Alamitos conducted the highly successful Orange County Racing Fair meet during the daytime. Hall of Fame jockeys like Willie Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay Jr., Chris McCarron rode and Hall of Fame trainers like Richard Mandella, Neil Drysdale, D. Wayne Lukas, Bobby Frankel and others campaigned horses at Los Alamitos during the Orange County Racing Fair, which eventually went to nights and continued to be held through 1991.
     
The audio portion only of the California Horse Racing Board regular meeting will be available online through a link at the CHRB website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under “Webcasts.”

“We will have substantial more revenue from the Thoroughbred racing," Allred told the Q-Racing Journal. "I’m not trying to make a living off the racetrack, I’m trying to make racing go.”

There is the potential for additional benefits, too.

“We’re hopeful that, as time goes on, some of the Thoroughbred owners and trainers will see our $2 million and $1 million races and get intrigued by it,” Allred said. “Maybe we can even get Bob Baffert to train a couple Quarter Horses!

“We’re excited about the interplay and attention Los Alamitos will receive from the Thoroughbred public as a result of this,” he continued. “We will try to convert a few of those to our game.

"I think this will definitely prolong our ability to conduct Quarter Horse racing at Los Alamitos," he said. "We will learn some things and try to improve as we go along.”