The average single night total handle enjoyed a 2% increase following the conclusion of the 151-night 2015-2016 night racing season. The average single night total handle for the meet was $1,240,887, up from the $1,217,266 averaged last year.
Account Wagering increased 1% with a nightly average handle of $424,604, while on-track handle was down 2% to $115,780. The total all-sources handle at Los Alamitos was $187,373,939, up from $182,590,177.
A year-long meet saw a variety of top horses posting major victories for a wide array of top racing operations. Jim Walker’s Idaho-bred Zoomin For Spuds won the prestigious Grade 1 Champion of Champions, while Fawna Knight’s Worth Doing (photo) won the meet’s richest race, the Grade 1 $1,950,500 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The track’s two other million dollar races went to Lucky Seven Ranch’s Lotta Blues Man in the Golden State Million Futurity and Dr. James Streelman and Denny Boer of Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq taking the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. The meet’s richest derby, the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby, went to Reliance Ranches’ Big Lew, while the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship went to Michael Teel’s AJs High. Other top winners included S-Quarter K LLC’s Heza Dasha Fire won both the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap, Lucky Seven Ranch’s Sass Me Blue taking the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap, Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot and Quirky winning the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity and Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap, respectively, with Ron Hartley’s One Proud Eagle taking the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity and Urschel 3-D Ranch LLC’s Rite Regal winning the Golden State Derby and El Primero Del Ano Derby.
The early Pick Fours continued to be the most popular wager at Los Alamitos with an all-time record figure of $192,292 set on Sunday, April 10. The meet featured the five highest Pick 4 pools ever. The early Pick 4 pool is often over $150,000 per night. The meet also featured the second highest late Pick 4 pool of $138,670 on Sunday, April 3. Three out of the top four highest pools in the late Pick 4 were established in 2016.
Ed Allred, the sport’s all-time leading owner and breeder, was the top Quarter Horse owner at the meeting with 56 wins from 341 starters for a 16.4% win ratio in 2016. EG High Desert Farms was the second leading owner with 48 wins headed by multiple stakes winners Unclaimed Dividend and Jess Ravin. Dr. Steve Burns finished third with 21 wins. Paul Jones was the meet’s leading Quarter Horse trainer for the 18th time in the last 19 years after saddling 90 winners, headed by John Sperry’s multiple derby winner Jess Good Reason. Jose Flores with 56 wins and Jaime Gomez with 48 finished second and third in the standings. The Quarter Horse race for leading rider was one of the best in decades with Cesar De Alba clinching his first riding title on the meet’s next to last race. Young superstar Jesus Rios Ayala won the meet’s final race, the Southern California Derby, to close the gap and make the final tally De Alba 102 and Rios Ayala 101. Cruz Mendez, the leading rider the previous four years, finished third in the standings with 68 wins. The “Goose is Loose” once again in the Thoroughbred jockey standings as Ramon Guce, the track’s all-time leading Thoroughbred rider, collected his 10th title after winning 77 races. Vinnie Bednar was second with 62 wins and Omar Santos was third with 38. Angela Aquino became the first woman to be leading trainer at Los Alamitos after saddling 48 Thoroughbreds to top the breed’s standings. Jose Antonio Moreno was second with 30 winners, while all-time leading Thoroughbred trainer Charles Treece was third with 17 wins. Ashley Garcia finished as the meet’s leading Thoroughbred owner with 25 winners. CD Ranch was second with 21 and Carmen Garcia Jimenez was third with 10.
For the third straight year, Los Alamitos Race Course hosted eight weeks of daytime major Southern California Thoroughbred racing highlighted by the outstanding California-bred 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, as he made his final start in California at the Orange County oval in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Saturday, December 17. Trained by the beloved Art Sherman, California Chrome cruised home to win the Los Alamitos Winter Challenge.
The Bob Baffert-trained Mastery won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity at 1 1/16th of a mile, while eventual Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Fantastic Style won the Great Lady M at Los Alamitos. Abel Tasman won the Grade 1 Starlet. The eight weeks of daytime racing were split into three meets held in April, September and December with Los Alamitos hosting a total of 32 daytime racing dates. Twenty four of those days featured the traditional evening Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing programs.