Q-Racing Blog: The Kindergarten
Q-Racing Blog: The Kindergarten
By Ty Wyant
The race’s namesake – Robert “Bobby” Adair – surpassed being a Los Alamitos legend years before he died in 2015 after a long battle with cancer.
The race has been a cornerstone of Los Alamitos racing since the race’s inception in 1955.
Under Adair’s silks during the later years of his riding career, which concluded in 1984, he wore a T-shirt that said, “Don’t mess with the Old Master.” His nickname was “The Master.”
Adair surpassed master status. In six years, from 1968 to 1974, be won nine riding titles from 11 meetings, including winning a then-record 103 races in a single meeting in 1969.
Aboard “The Palomino Express” Kaweah Bar, Adair won 32 races. These wins aboard the usually unruly gelding included the 1969 Los Alamitos Derby and the 1970 and 1972 runnings of the Los Alamitos Championship.
In the Kindergarten, Adair scored his first win with Band Of Angels in 1970 and came back the following year to win aboard Osage Rocket. He also won with Bobbys Angel, named after Adair, and Easy Treasure.
On national television, Bob Baffert dedicated American Pharoah’s 2015 Kentucky Derby win “to a friend of mine, Bobby Adair, who isn't doing too good right now.” Adair died within weeks.
The Hagerman, New Mexico, native is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame.
The Kindergarten’s name was changed to the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity in 2016. That is only one year after Adair died and shows the respect that he deserved.
The Kindergarten was first contested in 1955. The first running was taken by Arizonan, who was that year’s champion gelding. Other winners from the first 10 runnings included world champions Jet Deck and Pap, and champions Tonto Bars Hank and Pokey Bar.
The Kindergarten’s status has changed over the years. Still highly regarded, it has become a Grade 2 race and is a starting point on the Los Alamitos futurity schedule that is now highlighted by the seven-figure futurities: the Ed Burke Million Futurity, the Golden State Million Futurity and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
This year’s $362,300, 300-yard Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity is May 19.
Los Alamitos announcer Ed Burgart has been working at Los Alamitos since 1977 and began announcing the races in 1981. He will be retiring at the end of this year.
Burgart had not decided on the morning-line favorite as of a few days after the trials on May 5. He had narrowed his choices to fastest-qualifier Chayito Cartel and second-fastest qualifier Chickititas Favorite.
J. Francisco Diaz’s Chayito Cartel won the fifth of nine trials by a nose over Jeryl or Ron Hartley’s Chickititas Favorite. Chayito Cartel was timed in :15.444 for the 300 yards while Chickititas Favorite raced to a :15.449 time.
“Chayito Cartel is really quick from the gate and can finish,” Burgart said. “Chickititas Favorite has a really good turn of foot. He has good acceleration.
“The Kindergarten is still important. A lot has changed with the $1 million races.”
Adair and the Kindergarten are a pair of Los Alamitos icons that deserve to always be connected. It is important.
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