APOLLITICAL PENCE, BOMB CYCLONE AMONG STARS DURING 2021 MEET
Dunn Ranch’s Apollitical Pence became only the fourth Quarter Horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1 Champion of Champions and Rosenthal Ranch’s Bomb Cyclone was outstanding in winning the richest running of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity since 2014, as they both ranked among the highlights of 2021 night meet at Los Alamitos Race Course, which closed on Sunday, December 19.
Apollitical Pence, a five-year-old gelding by Apollitical Jess, joined Dash For Cash, Refrigerator and SLM Big Daddy as the only runners to successfully win consecutive Champion of Champions titles. He also became the first to accomplish the feat since SLM Big Daddy won the sport’s most prestigious race for Quarter Horses 3-year-olds and upward in 1997 and again in 1998. Refrigerator is the only horse to win the Champion of Champions three straight years (1992-94).
Bomb Cyclone dominated in his two starts at Los Alamitos, winning his trial to the Two Million Futurity by four lengths before scoring a gate to wire two-length victory as the favorite in the $2,036,285 final. The Favorite Cartel gelding is out of the tremendous mare Remember Me Rose, who in recent years also produced Grade 1 winners Powerful Favorite, Runforyourlife and Cyber Monday – all sired by Favorite Cartel.
Dutch Masters III’s Flash Bak won California’s richest race of any breed for 3-year-olds, the Grade 1, $925,650 Los Alamitos Super Derby, adding to his victory in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February and thus becoming only the third horse to win both Grade 1 derbies. Tell Cartel (2020) and Be A Bono (2004) are the other two with this derby double.
Other Grade 1 winners for 2021 included the juveniles Golden Boi for M&G Farms in the Ed Burke Million Futurity and Dunn Ranch’s Whizkey Glasses in the Golden State Million Futurity and Rosenthal Ranch’s Powerful Favorite in the Los Brad McKinzie Alamitos Winter Championship and Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Winter Championship. Ed Allred’s Circle City won the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity and the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship, while in the filly and mare division Paulo Otavio Freire Macedo’s Reason To Fly MV won the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and Gentry Farms’ Kiss Thru Fire won the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap. Burns Ranch’s You Can Run, winner of the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap, and Ed Allred’s She Goes Up, winner of the Restricted Grade 1 Governor’s Cup Futurity, completes the list of Grade 1 winners at Los Alamitos in 2021.
Other racing highlights for the year included Ramon Sanchez becoming Los Alamitos’ all-time leading jockey in stakes wins with 154 when riding Jess Lyndes Reason to a dead-heat victory in the Las Chiquitas Stakes on November 21.
The Pick Fours continued to be the most popular wager at Los Alamitos, with some of the highest pools anywhere in night racing. Los Alamitos also enjoyed higher handles in its traditional Pick 6 wager with total pools following one-day carryovers often going over the $100,000 mark. Handle on the Los Alamitos live program plus its night simulcast imports for the 126 racing nights topped the $171 million mark. The figure was nearly identical with the same number of comparable racing dates (126 programs vs. 126 programs) in 2020 and up nearly 1% when compared to all night racing programs in 2019 (145 programs).
The average single night handle at Los Alamitos for the 126-night meet in 2021 was a robust $1,357,638, the third highest single night average for a meet in the track’s history.
Ed Allred won the Quarter Horse owner title after picking up 89 wins from 493 starters, while Dr. Steve Burns was second with 22 wins and EG High Desert Farms third with 15. Dunn Ranch led in earnings with $1,758,376. Los Alamitos stalwart Jaime Gomez earned his first Quarter Horse training title when he saddled 62 winners from 328 starters. Gomez is only the sixth different trainer to lead the Quarter Horse standings here since 1990. Scott Willoughby, last year’s leading Quarter Horse trainer, finished second with 59 wins with Jose Flores completing the top three with 53 wins. Monty Arrossa was the leader in earnings with $3,044,478. Ruben Lozano won his first Quarter Horse riding title with 65 wins, holding off second leading rider Oscar Peinado’s 60 wins. Victor Salazar completed the top three with 46 wins. Eduardo Nicasio led all Quarter Horse riders in earnings with $1,581,721.
In the Thoroughbred standings, Edgar Payeras and Eduard Rojas Fernandez finished in a tie in wins with 28 each. This is Payeras’ second title and Rojas Fernandez’s first at Los Alamitos. Cesar Ortega was third with 25 wins. Trainer Jesus Uranga won his first Thoroughbred training title with 27 wins, only one more than Jesus Nunez’s 26 wins. Sergio Morfin, last year’s leading Thoroughbred trainer, was third with 20. Oscar Prieto Casillas led the Thoroughbred owner standings for the first time with 15 wins. Angela Aquino was second with 8 wins. In the mixed-breed racing division, Cunningham Stables was the leading owner with 11 followed by Silvia Soto’s 10. Francisco Orduna Rojas, last year’s leading Thoroughbred rider, topped the standings in the mixed-breed category with 54 wins. Payeras was second with 45 and young rider Ricardo Ramirez completed the top three with 25. Uranga was also the leading trainer in this division with 24 wins followed by Morfin and Brian Cunningham, who tied for second with 17 each.
The 72nd year of racing at Los Alamitos continues on New Year’s Day with a live nighttime Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds program. The first Grade 1 stakes race of the meet is set for Sunday, January 2 with the running of the Charger Bar Handicap for mares ages 4 and up. Live racing is currently being conducted on a Saturday and Sunday night basis. For more info, please contact 714-820-2690.