LARC NEWS Posted: 12/19/2017 10:22:05 PM

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              Mr Pyc To You posted the biggest upset win in Champion of Champions history and J Fire Up set a record for most money earned in a single season by a filly or mare Quarter Horse at Los Alamitos Race Course to highlight the 67th year of racing at the Cypress oval. The 146-night meet came to a close on Sunday, December 17 with the new year-long meet at Los Alamitos set to open on Friday evening, December 29.

Owned by Ron and Denise Van Amburgh and Jose Flores, Mr Pyc To You won the Grade 1 Champion of Champions at 60-1 odds on Saturday, December 16, to make him the biggest longshot winner by far in the 45-year history of the race. The previous record longshot winner was Mr Doty Bars at 22-1. Mr Pyc To You’s shocking win was his first ever in a stakes race and came against a field that featured eight previous Grade 1 winners, including the last two winners of the Champion of Champions in Zoomin For Spuds and Heza Dasha Fire. 

Racing for Darling Farms, Jaime Gomez, and Ernesto Solis, the 2-year-old filly J Fire Up won seven of nine starts on the way to earning $1,430,411 at Los Alamitos in 2017. The Gomez-trained J Fire Up won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on closing night and also the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity and (RG3) Governor’s Cup Futurity. She was also runner-up in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. Her earnings bettered the previous mark set by another Gomez-trained filly, Higher Fire, of $1,241,933 in 2005.    

Other racing highlights for the 2017 meet included Keith Nellesen’s KVN Corona enjoying a perfect juvenile campaign. The colt by Corona Cartel won all six of his starts and won the Ed Burke Million and Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq won the meet’s richest race for 3-year-olds, the Grade 1 $956,500 Los Alamitos Super Derby, while the aforementioned Heza Dasha Fire went over the $2 million mark in career earnings after another great season in which he successfully defended his title in both the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap. In other racing highlights, Spackman Racing LLC’s Time For Jess won the richest race for aged mares, the Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap, and BH Lisas Boy won six of seven starts and posted Grade 1 wins in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship and Vessels Maturity.

The average single night total handle enjoyed a 1% increase following the conclusion of the 146-night 2016-2017 night racing season. The average single night total handle for the meet was $1,248,395, up from the $1,240,887 averaged last year. Account Deposit Wagering increased 1% with a nightly average handle of $429,128, while the out of state satellite handle was up 4.2% to $360,649. The total all-sources handle at Los Alamitos was $182,265,666.

The early Pick Fours at Los Alamitos continued to post record numbers in 2017 with an all-time high of $239,868 set on Sunday, May 7. It was the first time that the Pick Four pool at Los Alamitos has reached the $200,000 plateau. Los Alamitos posted seven of its nine highest early Pick Four handles ever in 2017. The meet was featured record figures in its Late Pick Four. An all-time high $164,219 was handled on Sunday, May 14, and the six highest Late Pick Four pools ever at Los Alamitos were set during the 2017 meet. 

Ed Allred, the sport’s all-time leading owner and breeder, was the top Quarter Horse owner at the meeting with 45 wins led by Champion of Champions finalist He Looks Hot, Truly A Pleasure Handicap winner Bound To Bet, plus talented runners Bemused and Tustin Kid.  EG High Desert Farms was the second leading owner with 29 wins headed by multiple stakes winner Jess Ravin and Golden State Million Futurity runner-up Matilda Czech. Steve Burns was the third leading owner with 21 wins.  Paul Jones was the meet’s leading Quarter Horse trainer for the 19th time in the last 20 years after saddling 87 winners. His barn was led by KVN Corona, the late John and Cina Sperry’s Jess Good Reason, and Jones and Thompson Racing’s Grade 2 Golden State Derby winner That Rico.  Valentin Zamudio, who saddled Stelfast to victory in the Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby and also conditions Matilda Czech, was second with 53 wins. Jose Flores, who trains Champion of Champions 1-2 finishers Mr Pyc To You and Heza Dasha Fire, was third with 48 wins. Jaime Gomez finished as the leading trainer in money earned with $2,862,419. After finishing second by one win in 2016, young star Jesus Rios Ayala claimed his first Quarter Horse riding title after piloting 113 winners from 514 starters. Cesar De Alba, the leading rider last year, finished second with 104 winners from 467 starters. Cruz Mendez was third in the standings with 66 wins from 402 mounts. The leading rider in money earned was Jose Nicasio with $1,902,799. 

 The Thoroughbred race for leading rider at night was the best in track’s history as Juan Sanchez claimed the title by winning the breed’s final race of the meet. Sanchez, who missed about a month of action with an injury, won 68 races from 247 mounts. Vinnie Bednar was second with 67 wins from 265 mounts. Efrain Hernandez completed the top three with 31 wins. Bednar was the leading rider in money earned with $501,730. Trainer Jesus Nunez won the Thoroughbred training title easily with 63 victories. He was also the leader in money earned with$587,260. Angela Aquino, the leading trainer in 2016, finished second in the standings with 30 wins, while Keith Craigmyle completed the top three with 24 wins. CD Ranch finished at the top of the Thoroughbred owner standings with 26 wins followed by Ashley Garcia with 16.

For the fourth consecutive year, Los Alamitos Race Course hosted eight weeks of daytime major Southern California Thoroughbred racing highlighted by graded stakes wins from McKinzie in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity, Dream Tree in the Grade 1 Starlet, Majestic Heat in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes, Skye Diamonds in the Grade 2 Great Lady M Stakes, and West Coast in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby.  The eight weeks of daytime racing were split into three meets held in July, September and December with Los Alamitos hosting a total of 31 daytime racing dates. Twenty three of those days featured the traditional evening Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing programs.  

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