09/22/2014 11:21AM

Los Alamitos business improves during fall meet

Benoit & Associates
Apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke, 20, was the leading rider, winning the second title of his career. He finished with 11 wins.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Los Alamitos completed an 11-day Thoroughbred meeting on Sunday with stronger business than during its summer meeting as well as during last year’s Los Angeles County Fair meet, which was conducted over the corresponding days last year.

Los Alamitos reported average daily handle of $5,786,238 from all sources, 27 percent higher than during last year’s Fairplex meet. Fairplex Park had an average handle of $4,568,812 during its 13-day meeting in September 2013, according to figures released by Los Alamitos.

Los Alamitos took over the September dates previously held by Fairplex Park.

The first Thoroughbred meeting at Los Alamitos, a two-week meet in July, had average daily all-sources handle of $5,070,966. The average ontrack attendance in July was 3,567, but the average slumped to 2,094 in September.

“I would have to say this meet probably outdid our expectations,” said Los Alamitos general manager Brad McKinzie. “We thought we’d do well, but we did better than we thought we would, especially with the racing product.

“The only thing we’ve been doing is looking at numbers against Fairplex last year. It appears we generated more handle here.”

Field size showed an increase, rising from 6.99 runners per race at the July Los Alamitos meeting to 7.73 runners per race in September, a gain track officials said they expected. In 2013, Fairplex Park conducted 136 races with an average of 7.6 runners per race. Los Alamitos ran 94 races in September.

“We put on a better product than July,” McKinzie said. “The two weeks before Del Mar is tough. The three weeks after Del Mar is better. I think some of that is the good reviews we had in July as far as the racing surface.”

Apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke, 20, was the leading rider, winning the second title of his career. He finished with 11 wins, one more than Fernando Perez.

Van Dyke, who was the leading rider at the July Thoroughbred meeting here, is a leading contender for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice of 2014.

Trainers Doug O’Neill and Mike Puype finished in a tie for the trainers title with six wins each, one more than Bob Baffert.

With the closing of Hollywood Park last year and with the Los Angeles County Fair forfeiting its racing dates at Fairplex, Los Alamitos is running three short race meetings in 2014. The track will have a three-week meeting in December.

The track’s December meeting will be conducted after the Del Mar November meeting and prior to the Santa Anita marathon winter-spring meeting.

McKinzie said the September meeting showed progress, and looked forward to December when the track will host two Grade 1 races – the Los Alamitos Futurity for 2-year-olds and the Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

“December will be interesting,” he said.