James Azevedo and Boyles Family Trust’s High School Secrets rallied from a troubled start to score a neck victory in the $20,000 James Smith Memorial Handicap at 350 yards Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Now a perfect three for three with jockey Cesar De Alba aboard, the Paul Jones-trained High School Secrets was sixth in the early going before recovering to finish strongly. A finalist to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby in his previous start, High School Secrets covered the 350 yards in :17.568 while posting his fourth win in 12 career starts. High School Secrets earned $11,000 for the win to take his career earnings to $61,641.
“We haven’t won a (trophy) in a long time so this feels good,” Azevedo said. “The last stakes race we won probably came with Finding Nemo and that was a while back. I’m glad to see this horse run well. He’s qualified to a couple of stakes race and it’s great to see him cross the finish line first. He got hit coming out of the gate, but he came back strong. Cesar De Alba has done great with this horse. Our other horse (Bullet In The Gun) was ridden by Ramon Sanchez and I’ll take both of those jockeys any day of the week.”
High School Secrets was named by the Azevedos’ son, Dane, who is a junior in high school.
“He took the names of the sire No Secrets Here and the dam Summertime High and came up with High School Secrets,” Azevedo added.
Angel Villalobos’ French Fury finished nicely from along the rail to move up from third to second in the final half of the race. French Fury, who also ran second in the Buena Park Handicap in his previous start earned $4,500 for his runner-up effort. Alvin Cross Child’s Ric Oh Shay, a winner in his last three outings, earned $2,500 for finishing third.
The Azevedos and Boyles Family Trust started the aforementioned sixth place finisher Bullet In The Gun in this race in partnership with trainer Paul Jones.
“Neither horse got a good break,” Jones said. “Bullet In The Gun got squeezed at the start and didn’t have much chance to run and High School Secrets also had trouble, but room opened up for him and he made a big run. Cesar had ridden both of these horses before and he made the right choice in riding High School Secrets in this race.”
The complete order of finish is as follows: High School Secrets, French Fury, Ric Oh Shay, RM Looking For Fame, Secretly Famous, Bullet In The Gun, Corona Cade, Thrifty and Stel Redneck.
The James Smith Memorial Handicap is named in honor of the long time Vice-President and General Manager of the Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Association that conducted a winter meeting at Los Alamitos Race Course during the 1980s and early 90s. Smith was an integral figure in bringing Thoroughbred racing to Los Alamitos in the mid 90s.
“Jim Smith was an eclectic man, a cultured man,” said Ed Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos Race Course. “Jim worked for a hockey team and had a good friend that worked for Hollywood Park. He came to California and was hired to work at Los Alamitos Race Course by Robert L. Boniface, who was the president of the HQHRA. Jim worked as general manager here and also during the seasons that we raced Quarter Horses at Bay Meadows.”
“Jim had a great academic background and he was great at doing promotions,” Allred added. “He was the president of the Federation of California Racetracks and he was well liked and very respected. When I began running the company, I made him our director of governmental relations. Jim was very effective in Sacramento. Los Alamitos has Thoroughbred racing today because of Jim Smith. The legislation to allow Thoroughbreds to race here would have never passed if it wasn’t for him. I keep a photograph of Jim Smith on my desk and will always do so.”