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Friday, January 21, 2022

Los Alamitos launches 7-day Winter Best Breed Meeting

Los Alamitos began its seven-day winter plenary meeting on Friday with an eight-race schedule, which includes 56 entries (seven per race).

Orange County Track Vice President Jack Liebau is optimistic that the size of the field will remain stable during the brief meeting.

“So far the entries have gone well,” Libou said during a telephone interview on Thursday. “Hopefully, I guess it’s because I think our wallets for claiming ranks are on par with Santa Anita and Del Mar. I think, hopefully the second week, long before they leave ( Will be good because of two weeks). Santa Anita.”

Track management would have liked that the meeting be longer, but this year their racing schedule was cut from eight to seven weeks.

“Unfortunately, we have finished the race (December 12), which is a real disappointment for all of us at Los Alamitos,” he said. “Here we are in December and there’s not going to be any racing after December 12th.”

The meat includes three graded steaks – $300,000 Grade I Starlet on Saturday, $100,000 Grade III Baycoa Stakes on Sunday, and $300,000 Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity on December 11th.

There are two non-graded bets that will be run – the $100,000 Soviet Problem on December 10 for the Phillies and the $100,000 King Glorious for the Colts and gelding on closing day.

Libau believes that Futurity, which was once a Grade I race but was reduced to Grade II status a few years ago, will soon regain its Grade I status.

“We hope to get it back to Grade I as we increase the purse from $200,000 to $300,000,” he said. “That race, it won’t happen this time, but usually whoever wins (future) is the (opening) favorite for the Kentucky Derby. But Corniche (not running in Futurity) should be the odds-on favorite, I assume now. I will

Following the Los Alamitos meeting, the Southern California circuit will get a two-week break. Santa Anita doesn’t begin its winter-spring mating until December 26. Some in the industry view the pause as a positive, but Libau doesn’t see it that way for three reasons:

• “From a racing point of view, people either get out of the habit of going to races or going to satellites and they find something else to do. I think that’s a danger,” he said.

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• “If they continue to bet, they are exposed to other circuits and they can continue to bet on those circuits more often than they would otherwise if there were no breaks,” Libau explained.

• “There’s no doubt that breaks hurt labor. Unfortunately, it used to be a five-day race week, then we went to four and now we’re on three. So these jobs that have been really full-time for years Jobs were… now it is really hard on labor,” he said. “It may be self-serving for me to say this, but labor is an important component of the industry and without it we are out of luck. They say horses need a break, well, horses are still training. The horse doesn’t get a break from training.”

Six 2-year-old Phillies were entered for the starlet, a 1 1/16-mile race that began in 1981 at Hollywood Park. Trainer Bob Baffert has half the field, opting to enter Ada, 4 1/4-length winner Desi Arnaz Stakes in Del Mar on November 13, Del Mar debutante winner Grace Adler and Benedict Canyon.

Baffert has won the Starlet’s last four runs, including last year’s upset win with 17-1 shot Varda.

Starting with Dortmund (2014), and continuing with More Spirit, Mastery, McKinsey, Improbable, Thousand Words and Spielberg, Baffert has won all seven of Futurity’s runs at Los Alamitos, also a distance of 1 1/6 miles. Feather.

Last year, Baffert won Starlet and Futurity for the fourth year in a row.

Libau said there are no specific COVID-19 protocols for the meeting.

“We have made all employees wear masks,” he said. “Also, I don’t think there’s any need to wear a mask outside.”

Follow Art Wilson on Twitter @Sham73

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