Los Alamitos Race Course will host 12 Grade 1 Quarter Horse stakes races, more than any other track in the nation, as part of an outstanding stakes schedule worth over an estimated $10.62 million in purse money in 2017.
The Quarter Horse stakes schedule will be headed by the track’s staple of three Grade 1 futurities projected to be worth over $1 million each and by the 45th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions. The track will host a total of 24 stakes races that will feature purses of $100,000 or more. Eight of those will have purses of $300,000 or more.
The richest race of the 2017 season will be the Grade 1 $2,000,000 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity to be held on the meet’s closing night on Sunday, December 17. The Champion of Champions, the nation’s most prestigious race for older horses, will be an evening earlier on Saturday, December 16. The track’s richest derby, the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby is projected to have a purse of around $900,000 and will be held on Sunday, November 12. The two other million dollar races of the meet are the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity on Sunday, June 18 and the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Golden State Million Futurity on Sunday, November 5.
All in all, Los Alamitos will host a nation’s best 29 graded stakes races in 2017, which will include the aforementioned 12 open Grade 1 races, four open Grade 2 races, nine open Grade 3 races, and four Restricted Graded stakes races for California bred Quarter Horses. The Cal-bred events are the features the RG1 $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap, RG2 $400,000 estimated Governor’s Cup Futurity, RG3 $225,000 estimated Governor’s Cup Derby, and RG3 $40,000 California Breeders Matron Stakes. Those four races will headline the all-stakes California Breeders Champions Night program on Saturday, July 29.
Racing is scheduled on a Friday through Sunday with opening night set for December 30, 2016 and closing night set for December 17, 2017, which is the evening of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. There will be no live racing at Los Alamitos on New Year’s Eve Saturday, December 31, Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, nor Easter Sunday, April 16.
RICH WINTER SESSION KICKS OFF THE MEET
The winter portion of the meet will be headed by three major Grade 1 races. The $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap, which has been won the last two years by champion aged mare Quirky, will feature the top mares on the grounds racing at 400 yards on Sunday, January 8. The Grade 1, $200,000 projected Los Alamitos Winter Derby at 400 yards on Saturday, February 11 and the Grade 1, $200,000 projected Los Alamitos Winter Championship at 400 yards on February 12 are the two other Grade 1 events to be held during the winter part of the meet.
Los Alamitos’ great derby tradition continues in 2017. In addition to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, the Orange County oval hosts the Grade 2 Golden State Derby on August 20 and Grade 2 Southern California Derby, which now kicks off the meet’s closing weekend on Friday, December 15, 2017. Other derbies to be contested will the Grade 3 La Primera Del Ano Derby for fillies and Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby for colts and geldings on the weekend of April 1-2, the previously noted Restricted Grade 3 Governor’s Cup Derby on July 29, and the Grade 3 PCQHRA Breeders Derby on Friday, October 6.
Los Alamitos has a Quarter Horse stakes program for aged runners that is second to none nationwide. In addition to the Champion of Champions, Winter Championship, and Spencer Childers, Los Alamitos will host four other Grade 1 races for older horses in 2016: the Grade 1, $150,000 Vessels Maturity on July 2; the Grade 1, $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap on September 3; the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on October 15; and for distaffers, the Grade 1 $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on September 24. The Mildred Vessels, which is the nation’s premiere race for mares, had its purse increased by $25,000 for 2017 and is one of four races for female Quarter Horses that enjoyed a purse hike for the upcoming meet. The others are the the Grade 3 $50,000 Las Damas Handicap (up from $25,000), Grade 3 $35,000 Miss Princess Handicap (up from $25,000), and the $30,000 Ivan Ashment Handicap (up from $25,000).
The $35,000 Moonist Handicap at 400 yards is a brand new race added to the stakes schedule for 2017. Named in honor of the multiple AQHA Champion, which died last year, the Moonist Handicap is for 3-year-olds and upward and will be held on Sunday, March 26. The Moonist will provide horses that competed in the Winter Championship final or the trials another racing option in early Spring prior to the Grade 3 $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap on May 7 and leading up to the Vessels Maturity trials on June 11.
SIX MAJOR FUTURITIES ON THE DOCKET
Six major graded futurities are scheduled at Los Alamitos in 2017. In addition to the three Grade 1 futurities with million dollar purses and the Restricted Grade 2 Governor’s Cup Futurity, Los Alamitos will also host the Grade 3 $475,000 estimated Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity, named in honor of the legendary Hall of Fame jockey.
The futurity schedule will also feature the Grade 2, $400,000 projected PCQHRA Breeders Futurity on Saturday, October 7 and the $125,000 projected Wild West Futurity on Sunday, October 29 for horses from the Intermountain, Northwest regions plus Nevada and Canada.
MAIDEN STAKES AND DISTANCE EVENTS RETURNS
The 2017 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes for 3-year-olds will feature a projected purse of $120,000 on Sunday, February 29. Non-winners as of December 1, 2016 are eligible for the 350-yard race for foals of 2014. The stakes schedule also include four stakes races at 870 yards starting with the Wheatland Handicap on Saturday, April 15. California Breeders Champions Night will feature the Sign Of Lanty Handicap around the turn, while the Truly A Pleasure on September 1 and the Snowbound Superstar on December 10 complete the distance portion of the stakes schedule.