12/18/2015 1:34PM

Just Kidding auditions for stakes

Shigeki Kikkawa
Alfa Bird has raced only once since winning an optional claiming race in January.

CYPRESS, Calif. – For a two-time winner yet to run in a stakes, Just Kidding has generated high hopes for trainer Peter Eurton.

A 3-year-old colt, Just Kidding drew the rail in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer at a mile in Sunday’s eighth race at Los Alamitos. The race could serve as a prep for stakes in early 2016.

“I’ve been looking,” Eurton said. “I didn’t think this race would go.”

The feature drew a field of eight, none of whom won their last starts. Just Kidding was second in an optional claimer at Del Mar on Nov. 1. Highway Boss was second in a $50,000 claimer on turf at Del Mar on Oct. 29. He is entered to be claimed for $62,500.

Sunday is the final day of the three-week Los Alamitos winter Thoroughbred meeting. Santa Anita opens its winter-spring meeting Dec. 26.

Race 8


Just Kidding (Last 3 Beyers: 89-88-77)

◗ Just Kidding could get an ideal trip under jockey Mario Gutierrez from the inside post. Runners such as Alfa Bird and Prime Issue are expected to show speed, while Just Kidding frequently races from just off the pace.

“He’s training really well,” Eurton said. “I could see him sitting third or fourth and kind of moving off the fence somewhere.”

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◗ Just Kidding has won 2 of 11 starts. He won an optional claimer at a mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 3, closing from third in a field of 10.

Alfa Bird (Last 3 Beyers: 50-97-86)

◗ Alfa Bird won consecutive starts in a maiden race and an optional claimer in late 2014 and in January of this year. He has not raced since finishing eighth behind Shared Belief in the Grade 2 San Antonio at Santa Anita in February.

◗ Trained by Victor Garcia, Alfa Bird has worked seven furlongs twice this month, suggesting that the 4-year-old colt could be ready for a top effort Sunday.

Cyrus Alexander (Last 3 Beyers: 77-90-83)

◗ Cyrus Alexander’s dirt form makes him competitive in this field. He won a maiden race and an optional claimer against 3-year-olds on dirt at Santa Anita earlier this year but was a disappointment in his last start – a ninth-place finish in an optional claimer on turf at Del Mar on July 16.

◗ Similar to Just Kidding, Cyrus Alexander can be handy and should be close to the pace for jockey Martin Garcia. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Cyrus Alexander was purchased for $1.7 million as a yearling in 2013.

Texas Two Step (Last 3 Beyers: 87-90-76)

◗ Texas Two Step will start in California for the first time Sunday. Previously based in the Midwest, Texas Two Step was third in an optional claimer at seven furlongs at Keeneland on Oct. 30. Now trained by Peter Miller, Texas Two Step has yet to win beyond six furlongs.