LARC NEWS Posted: 11/27/2016 8:09:48 PM

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        Los Alamitos Race Course has a tradition that is second to none when it comes to its stakes program for mares. Over its history, the track built by Frank Vessels Sr. has seen most of the sport’s legendary mares like Charger Bar, She’s Precious, Denim N Diamonds, Dash For Speed, Dashing Folly and current superstars Quirky and Sass Me Blue have all competed at the top stakes level at Los Alamitos.

That tradition should continue in 2017 and beyond after four key races in the distaff division  - the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap, Grade 3 Miss Princess Handicap, Grade 3 Las Damas Handicap, and the Ivan Ashment Handicap for Cal-Breds, have each received purse increases for the upcoming year. The prestigious Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and the Las Damas Handicap had the largest increases, as they’ve each seen their purses raised by $25,000. The Mildred Vessels Handicap, which is the nation’s premier event for distaffers will now feature a purse of $125,000, up from $100,000 in 2016. The purse for the Las Damas Handicap has been significantly increased from $25,000 in 2016 to $50,000 in 2017.

 

First held in 1974, the Mildred Vessels Memorial Futurity has been won by the likes of AQHA world champions Miss Thermolark, Dash For Speed, Down With Debt, Dashing Folly, Blues Girl Too and legendary mares She’s Precious, Florentine, Apollitical Time and more. Sass Me Blue won the 2016 Mildred Vessels Memorial, which is named in honor of the matriarch and former owner of Los Alamitos Race Course. The Millie Vessels is for 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares and will be contested at 400 yards on Sunday, September 24. As in previous years, the winner will earn a berth to the 2017 Grade 1 Champion of Champions.

The Las Damas, which is for 3 and up fillies and mares at 400 yards, will be contested on Saturday, November 25, 2017. First held in 1973, the Las Damas saw the legendary Charger Bar win its second running in 1974. From there, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled Little Blue Sheep to victory in 1978, and Hall of Fame jockey Robert Adair piloted back-to-back winners in 1979-80 with Prissy Gold Digger and Lady Juno. Other famous winners of the Las Damas include Miss Racy Vike, an AQHA Racing Dam Of Distinction and the mother of champion Miss Racy Jess and noted stallion Kiddy Up. World Champion Down With Debt won the Las Damas in 1994.

The Miss Princess Handicap and the Ivan Ashment Handicap for California breds also received solid purse boosts for 2017. The Miss Princess Handicap will feature a $35,000 purse next year, up from $25,000 this year. Fillies and mares ages 3 and up are eligible to compete in the Miss Princess, which will be held on Saturday, May 13 here at 350 yards. Named in honor of the three-time AQHA world champion, The Miss Princess was first held in 1981 and has been won by the likes of 1983 Champion of Champions winner Justanoldlove and 1987 All American Futurity winner Elans Special.

The Ivan Ashment will feature a $30,000 purse when it is contested on Saturday, June 17, up from the $25,000 offered this year. Named after the Hall of Fame breeder and owner, the Ashment is for California-bred fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward and it is held at 400 yards. Los Alamitos Race Course is also home to the Grade 1, $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap, which will be held at 400 yards on Sunday, January 8.

And it’s not just in the stakes division that Los Alamitos caters to fillies and mares more than any other Quarter Horse track. The Orange County oval also features a comprehensive year-round overnight racing schedule for this division, everything from maiden races for 2-year-old fillies; to claiming events strictly for fillies and mares; to allowance and overnight handicap races for fillies and mares. Los Alamitos Race Course is once again committed to hosting as many races as possible in the distaff division in 2017. 

For more information on the upcoming Los Alamitos stakes schedule or for additional racing opportunities, please call 714-820-2780. 

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