California track to welcome back Arabian racing after five year absence
5 September 2014 Los Alamitos, California ~ After a long hiatus, Arabians will once again race at the refurbished Los Alamitos track, home of California Chrome.
Horsereporter spoke to Orlando Gutierrez, Director of Media Operations at Los Alamitos, about the Arabian races.
It’s been about five years since Arabians raced at Los Alamitos, according to Gutierrez. “We ran the 2009 Drinkers of the Wind Derby and Daughters of the Desert Derby, which were two of the most important races for Arabians in the country at the time. Those were the last two major Arabian racing events until now,” he said.
The Los Angles County Fair racing dates were moved from Fairplex Park at Pomona to Los Alamitos, where renovations are expected to increase fans and revenue.
Gutierrez explained the attraction of Los Alamitos: “Los Alamitos is a one-mile track following the expansion, so we are able to contest one mile races around two turns. Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome calls Los Alamitos home and has been training here since the start of the year, while Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief won his 2014 stakes debut at Los Alamitos in July. This fall season’s Los Alamitos Mile will feature millionaire Clubhouse Ride and rising start Masochistic. Jockeys like Rafael Bejarano, Joe Talamo and Victor Espinoza will be riding this meet so more recognizable horses and jockeys will be part of the fall meeting at Los Alamitos. Our opening card attracted 8.5 horses per race as part of the 8 horse field and bigger field typically translate to bigger handle. We are doing some innovative programs to try to boost our on-track attendance and we are partnering with the LA County Fair in programs such as free fair admission tickets when fans visit Los Alamitos.”
Track Management will be looking at the handle of the Arabian races. In the past, Arabians have handled as well as the Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos.
“There is an Arabian race with nine horses carded for opening day, 5 September and another race on 7th September, and we are looking forward to the September 20 $47,000 estimated Arabian Sheikh Zayed stakes race (supported by the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Global Arabian Racing Festival),” continued Gutierrez. “It would be great to card a couple of Arabian races each of the three weekend of this meeting.”
The 5 September date has attracted horses from Washington State, Texas and Colorado, as well as from California.
Mark Powell is bringing horses from Colorado and it is good to see Tom Bazley on the track at Los Alamitos as well. Powell is the owner of the fast and nimble, So Big Is Better, winner of the 2013 Breeder’s Cup Arabian race at Santa Anita Park. Bazley was an established and successful Quarter Horse trainer for many years before he trained his first Arabian, over 20 years ago.
Denise Gault, Chief Steward of the Arabian Racing Cup sees the renewed racing in Southern California as a very positive step. “Seeing Arabians racing back at Los Alamitos is a personal thrill for me. We first raced at Los Al in the 1980’s when the Orange County Fair races were held there. Then, in 1991, thanks to Los Al’s new owner at the time, Dr Ed Allred, Arabians were invited to race full time, offering us a home base for year round racing that continued for close to 20 years. ARAC’s motto during those good times was “California, the Place to Race!”, and I sincerely hope we can rekindle the excitement and reinstate the motto!”
The dates of Fair dates at Los Alamitos racing are 5 -21 September but Los Alamitos hosts year-round Quarter Horse and lower level Thoroughbred racing on a Friday through Sunday basis.
One of the highlights during the opening weekend of the meet will be a public viewing of a workout by Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome between races on Saturday, September 6 We are hosting our first major concert in quite some time featuring a tribute band this time. We are excited to see the turn out for this event and hopefully grow this program in the months to come.
Photo: Pamela Burton