07/14/2014 1:06PM

Valuable lessons noted at new Los Alamitos summer meet

Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief wins the Los Alamitos Derby on July 5.

CYPRESS, Calif. – The Los Alamitos summer meeting ended Sunday with an average all-sources handle of $5,070,966, a figure track officials expect will increase when live racing resumes for brief race meetings in September and December.

Attendance averaged 3,567, while average ontrack handle was $392,648.

The eight-day meeting took the place of dates previously run at Hollywood Park, which permanently closed in December. Two weeks before Hollywood Park closed, Los Alamitos gained approval from the city of Cypress to expand the circumference of its track from five-eighths of a mile to a mile to accommodate year-round Thoroughbred training and racing.

The new configuration was used during the summer meeting. The expanded part of the track was developed on grounds formerly used as a golf course. The smaller track is still in use for night races at a meet that is largely for Quarter Horses.

“People forget that six months ago, that racetrack was an overgrown golf course,” general manager Brad McKinzie said on closing day. “We put on a race meeting on a track that jockeys and trainers are saying that they universally liked.”

McKinzie said business comparisons with Hollywood Park are difficult because Los Alamitos conducted its first Thoroughbred meeting this summer since the final Orange County fair was run in 1991.

“We are a first-time track,” McKinzie said. “Hollywood had 70 years of tradition and branding in the industry.”

During the same eight days of racing in 2013, Hollywood Park had an average all-sources handle of $8,514,432, running a total of 73 races on a synthetic main track and a turf course.

Los Alamitos conducted 67 races during its eight-day meeting, drawing an average field of 6.99 runners.

The position of the meeting, in the weeks before the popular Del Mar meeting, which has the highest purses on the circuit, made attracting horses more difficult. McKinzie said the track’s 11-day meeting from Sept. 5-21 and 12-day meeting from Dec. 4-21 are likely to have stronger business and larger fields.

“The key to a race meeting is horse population and full fields, and we got hurt with [some] four-horse fields [during the meet],” McKinzie said. “We showed the track can put on a first-class Thoroughbred meeting. I think September will be a better meet than this one because we’ll fill races better. I think December will be better than the September meeting. This was the first step. We needed to show we could do it.”

Los Alamitos does not have a turf course, a significant difference from racing at Hollywood Park.

McKinzie said purses were overpaid during the meeting, and that the track has reached an agreement with the Thoroughbred Owners of California to repay the balance over a two-year period. The amount of the overpayment was not immediately known.

McKinzie said that by the end of the month, barn capacity for year-round training of Thoroughbreds who race during the day in Southern California will be expanded to 700 stalls.

“We’ll find our niche,” McKinzie said. “Will we ever handle as much as Santa Anita or Del Mar? No, but we’ll find our niche. Come and talk to us in two years. If we had an unsafe racetrack and had been unable to fill races, then we’d have a problem.”

Apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke, 19, won his first riding title, finishing with 12 wins from 31 mounts, four more wins than Joe Talamo, who won the riding title at the spring-summer meeting at Santa Anita. Van Dyke began riding last November.

Peter Miller was the leading trainer with three wins, one more than 15 trainers who had two wins each.

Shared Belief, the champion 2-year-old male of 2013, won the richest race of the meeting, the $500,500 Los Alamitos Derby on July 5.

Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
The difference between on track and off track handle is growing every year. Why have a track In a location where the air polluted and the environment is noisy ? Silence and clean air will be an improvement in horses' lives. The property outside of city limits is cheaper to buy and has lower property taxes. You wouldn't be cramped for space, so everything is more spread out and would have the option of building an upgraded training facility like the Japanese have done.
BSavesky More than 1 year ago
The people have spoken Ed Burghart must go. Trevor gave credibility to Fairplex for years and it was fun to watch because of Trevor giving it a big time race feel. Ed Burghart makes me wish that they would take the Keeneland approach for years and go silent.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
Huh, I never knew they provide internet access in Mental Institutions now, BS! Interesting...very interesting.
THEHOFFonhorses More than 1 year ago
Whoever hired Michelle Yu should be fired on the spot. WOW IS SHE CLUELESS!! All she does is babble. She adds nothing to the betting or look of any horse. I guess dating Julien Leparoux and now some crooked trainer Ryan Hanson at Los Al can get you anywhere. Ed Burgart was completely overmatched calling these races. From getting lost with the poles, to repeating the same horse 4 times in 30 yards, to calling horses winners that got clipped on the line, to calling horses too far back that got up and won. Disgusting display by both.
anthonym More than 1 year ago
Ed Bugart is a lower tier QH announcer for a reason, to have him calling the races just cheapens the product. If you ever want to be taken seriously you need to get a real thoroughbred announcer up there, he is not a bad guy I am sure but just does generate excitement on any level as a race caller
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
A lower tier QH announcer ? Los Al is about as TOP tier as you can get in the QH world . You don't know what you are talking about . Ed speaks English unlike that foreign guy that speaks Afrikans or whatever.
johnd More than 1 year ago
Only horse racing would consider a 40.4% DROP in overall handle a success of ANY kind. Give me--and the horses--a break. Southern California racing is a disgrace. Give me the NYRA with all its problems and politics any day of the week. All any sane person needs to do is compare this coming summer's Saratoga meet against what Del Mar puts on the track. Enough said.
ken n More than 1 year ago
What a dump.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Embarasment, 4 and 5 horse fields, find some horses to fill the reces and watch your handle go up! It's simple, bigger fields = bigger betting. I have not bet CA in years, and did not place a cent on this meet. Who want's to watch 4 horse fields.
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
Like the meet .won some money just betting on drayden.
Ken More than 1 year ago
The Los Al meet was fun. It was a lot more comfortable temperature wise at the track than the last month at Santa Anita. Wish they would get a big video board in the infield. It was hard to see the horses at the top of the stretch without one. Overall, I give them an "A" for putting on a fun meet with such short notice. Maybe shorten the SA meet back to April and give Los Al two months before Del Mar.
BSavesky More than 1 year ago
Why would you run for 2 months at a place without a turf course and a second tier facility with a fifth tier track announcer. You are on drugs bro.
. More than 1 year ago
who cares about the track announcer. does not factor into who I am betting