12/22/2014 1:35PM

Los Alamitos officials satisfied with December meet

Benoit & Associates
Dortmund wins the Los Alamitos Futurity, the highlight of the December meeting.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Los Alamitos concluded its 12-day December Thoroughbred meeting on Sunday as well as its first year of conducting Thoroughbred racing following the closure of Hollywood Park in 2013. Los Alamitos averaged $5,640,866 a day in all-sources handle during the December meet, slightly lower than during its 11-day September meeting but higher than during its summer meeting.

Track officials said the December meeting showed growth in out-of-state handle, which rose by approximately $320,000 a day over race meetings earlier this year. The $7,246,526 wagered on Saturday, Dec. 6, was the most bet on a single day during the meet. The least, $2,986,096, occurred Dec. 18 on a program plagued by short fields.

Los Alamitos ran brief race meetings in July and September, taking over racing dates previously conducted at Hollywood Park, which has closed for development, and Fairplex Park, which has no plans for further live race meetings. The track also hosts a year-round night race meeting for Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds.

During the December meeting, Los Alamitos ran two Grade 1 races inherited from Hollywood Park – the $350,500 Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, won by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi, and the $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity, won by the unbeaten Dortmund, a contender for the 2015 Triple Crown races.

“This meet did what we hoped it would do,” said Los Alamitos Thoroughbred general manager Brad McKinzie. “We continued to show growth, particularly out of state. This is how we knew we had to gain credibility.

“The Starlet and the Futurity, if those don’t give us credibility – and those were high-quality races – I don’t know what will.”

Average ontrack attendance was 1,859, compared to an average of 3,567 in July and an average of 2,094 in September. The average daily all-sources handle in July was $5,070,966 and in September it was $5,786,238.

“We have numbers we can build on,” McKinzie said.

Average field size in December was 7.46 starters for 102 races, compared with 6.99 runners in July and 7.73 runners in September.

McKinzie was disappointed that Saturday’s Los Alamitos Futurity drew only five runners for the richest race of the meeting.

Rafael Bejarano led all riders with 12 wins, two more than runner-up Tyler Baze. Bob Baffert led trainers with eight wins, one more than Phil D’Amato.

McKinzie said the track has plans to add 100 stalls for Thoroughbreds, which would increase capacity for year-round stabling of Thoroughbreds to approximately 800. Fairplex Park is scheduled to close its stables permanently in March, and the 450 horses stabled there will need to find new quarters.

Los Alamitos plans to conduct three Thoroughbred meetings again in 2015, in July, September, and December.