05/02/2016 10:40AM

Single-day handle record set at Los Al spring meet


CYPRESS, Calif. – Los Alamitos completed its 12-day spring meeting Sunday with a single-day record for all-sources handle but a decline in average field size compared with its three meetings in 2015.

The track did not release detailed business figures but said statistics would be published this week.

Saturday’s nine-race program had an all-sources handle of $8,286,660, the highest since daytime Thoroughbred racing began at the Orange County track in 2014 following the closure of Hollywood Park the previous year.

This was the first year that Los Alamitos ran a spring meeting, having previously operated brief meetings in July, September, and December. The meeting averaged 7.07 runners per race, lower than the average of 7.47 runners at a meeting last July, 7.65 last September, and 7.14 last December.

“At this meet, it was tougher than we thought entry-wise,” said Brad McKinzie, the track’s Thoroughbred general manager. “With no turf course and no 2-year-olds, it’s a tough deal to do. We did as well as we could do with entries and horses.”

Los Alamitos ran 12 races for 2-year-olds last July but only two during this year’s spring meeting.

McKinzie said business was strong enough that the purse pool was underpaid for the meeting, allowing the track to erase some of the debt from an existing purse overpayment.

“We’ll be a little bit underpaid,” he said. “This meet, with the purse structure we had, can stand on its own.”

The meeting had five stakes, including the $200,000 Great Lady M. Stakes, a Grade 2 for female sprinters, and the $150,000 California Chrome Stakes for 3-year-olds, a newly created race. Uncle Lino, third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9, won the California Chrome Stakes as a potential prep for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21.

“The California Chrome Stakes, which we had received some skepticism about putting $150,000 to a stakes, turned out as we thought it would be,” McKinzie said. “I think it’s probably the best betting race we’ve run at Los Alamitos. The horse is looking at the Preakness. It’s one little brick in the wall to establish Los Al as a national Thoroughbred meeting.”

McKinzie said Sunday it is unclear whether Los Alamitos will run a spring meeting next year or revert to a July meeting, pending discussions this summer. Later this year, the track will run meetings in September and December.

“We’ve shown we can run a successful summer meeting and a successful spring meeting,” he said. “Where do they want us to fit in? If they want us to run in the spring next year, that’s great. If they want us in the summer, that’s great. This meet should be what’s best for the Southern California circuit.”

On the racetrack, Kent Desormeaux led all riders with 10 wins, two more than Edwin Maldonado. Mark Glatt and Doug O’Neill tied for the lead in the trainers’ standings with six wins.