07/28/2003 11:00PM

Appaloosas a vanishing breed


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Non-Thoroughbred races on the northern California fair circuit are referred to as emerging-breed races, but vanishing breed is more appropriate for the Appaloosas.

Once second in popularity only to the Thoroughbreds, the Appies are disappearing from the fair scene. According to the racing office here, there are only 42 registered Appies on the circuit.

Several older breeders have either retired or died, and Dr. Edward Allred, whose domination of the Appaloosa breeding industry might have contributed to its decline, is now concentrating more on Quarter Horses.

Allred bred such good runners that the Appaloosa association instigated a rule limiting the number of runners an owner can enter in the major futurities that fueled the sport. After that rule was passed, Allred dropped out of the business, and no one has taken his place.

"We just don't have any breeders," said Don Collins, who trained for Allred.

Collins has long been the king of the Appaloosas, even before he and Allred hooked up.

"I used to buy a lot from Texas and Oklahoma, but nobody does much breeding there either," he said. "Allred bred quite a bit. Maybe we hurt the business."

Allred sold many of his prospects, but even the better Allred runners are now getting old. And there are few new prospects to replace them.

Trainer Ray Thomas always had success with Appies, both breeding and racing them, but he stopped breeding after his current crop of 2-year-olds.

"I claimed my first Appy at Santa Rosa 20 years ago," he said. "I was breeding them, and the money was good. Even trainers like [Jeff] Bonde, [R.L.] Martin and [Cliff] DeLima had Appies.

"Now everybody's quit breeding, and it's killed the Appies. I only have four or five and used to have 20 or 30. I know we have 42 registered here but only about 25 or 30 run. Even at Los Alamitos, you only get six or eight straight Appy races a year. Most of the time you have to run in mixed-breed races."

Appaloosa racing was quite popular on the fairs. The breed was honest, athletic, and formful. Because they would run around a turn, there was more to racing and handicapping them than the simple element of who would break cleanly.

Mares were often bred to Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses, which has resulted in horses that lack the breed's distinctive coloring on hindquarters.

"I think they ought to make them have a block of spots," said Lloyd Mason, who trains the top Appy on the circuit, the aptly named He's Spotless. "If you make them show color, that's the only way to save it. They breed too much to Thoroughbreds."

He's Spotless is only the second Appy that Mason has trained. Years ago, he had Kojak, who set a world record by jumping seven feet but never raced. Mason said that He's Spotless might be turned into a jumper because racing opportunities are so limited.

Said Collins: "It looks like a dying business."

Bay Meadows Fair tries to boost entries

In an effort to boost entries, the Bay Meadows Fair will offer a trainer contest with $6,000 in prizes, divided $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 among the top three finishers.

Trainers will receive 3 points for each starter - and an additional 3 points for a first-place finish, 2 points for a second, and 1 point for a third.

Highly active trainers Jerry Hollendorfer, Armando Lage, and Art Sherman will not receive any starter points for their first 13 starters.

For trainers not finishing in the top three in the contest, a consolation prize is offered. Trainers will receive $150 for each starter over the number they started at the fair in 2002. Trainers who did not run at the fair last year get a theoretical number of 2002 starters based on their stall allocation this year.

Seminar showdown

As has become a custom, track announcer Vic Stauffer and Russell Baze's agent, Ray Harris, made a $100 bet for charity at Friday's Santa Rosa handicapping seminar. The winner was determined by mythical $2 across-the-board bets on their top picks.

Harris won last year, even though neither picked a winner.

It was different this year, as Stauffer's pick, Teanaway Rose, won the first race and returned $6.40, $3.60, $2.80, while Harris's pick, Entrancing, ran third, paying $2.40. Harris made it closer with runner-up Dianas Welcome ($3.40, $2.60) in the next race. Both had the show horse, Classic Brief, at $2.20 in the next race.

Between them they swept the card after that with Stauffer taking a big lead with In Love With Loot ($24, $11, $5.80). They finished one-two in the next race as Harris had Kouri Jill ($9.20, $3.60, $3) and Stauffer had Ocelot ($3.80, $3.20).

Harris then scored with Vines and Wines ($18.60, $9.40, $4.80), who was 1 for 71 in his career but second in both Santa Rosa starts.

Harris clinched victory when Paint Me Quick ($18.80, $9.20, $5.40) defeated Stauffer's selection, Lucky Louise ($7.20, $4.60).

"It was fun," Stauffer said, "but it would have been more fun if I'd won."

Stauffer, whose picks had an amazing 60 percent profit through the first week of the fair, and Harris will have a rematch with another charity wager Friday.