CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS PURSE TO NOW BE $700,000 IN 2024
Ed Allred, the track owner and CEO of Los Alamitos Race Course, has announced that the 2024 running of the Grade 1 Champion of Champions will have a purse of $700,000, down from the 2023 purse of $750,000 and from the previously announced purse of $1,000,000 due to a declining number of Quarter Horse races being filled at the Southern California track.
The $700,000 purse for the Champion of Champions still makes the prestigious 440-yard race the richest in the nation for older Quarter Horses by $350,000. The 2024 Champion of Champions purse will be the 10th highest in the 52-year history of the race and the 4th richest for this race since 2013. The 2024 Champion of Champions will be held on Saturday, December 14.
Los Alamitos has also experienced lower numbers of entrants in several recent Grade 1 stakes races for older horses. Only 12 older Quarter Horses entered the trials to the 2024 Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship with the top 10 advancing to the February 18 final. Similarly, the 2023 Grade 1 Vessels Maturity for older Quarter Horses also had just 12 entrants in the trials with the top 10 advancing to the final. The 2024 Vessels Maturity currently has 16 horses still eligible to race in its trials to be held on June 16.
“The Champion of Champions is a race that I truly love,” Allred said. “I would love nothing more than to have this great race feature a $1,000,000 purse and perhaps it will again in the future. However, racing in California could go through major changes this year and we must be proactive in making some hard decisions for the overall health of our racing program, particularly our historic stakes racing program. My goal remains to have as many Quarter Horse races as possible being held at Los Alamitos Race Course.”
THE 2024 CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS FORMAT
Just like it has done since its inaugural running in 1972, the Champion of Champions promises to continue to attract the top Quarter Horses in the nation for its Saturday, December 14 running. The 440-yard classic will feature presumptive starting berths in five Los Alamitos-based Grade 1 stakes races and will continue to offer invitations to selected winners of major Quarter Horse races nationally. Every presumptive starter in the Champion of Champions will be subject to regulations as listed on the Los Alamitos Race Course Equine & Rider Safety Enhancement Plan, plus a hair follicle test conducted at Los Alamitos prior to the running of the Champion of Champions. In addition, the owner/trainer of the Quarter Horse must be in good standing per house rules at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Los Alamitos’ Champion of Champions selection committee will consider all 2024 Grade 1 stakes winners for 3-year-olds and 3-year-olds and upwards on a national level. The selection committee will select three Grade 1 stakes winners to receive presumptive invitations to the Champion of Champions. The criteria for the selection committee to consider in its process may include:
The selection committee may offer additional invitations based on whether its original invitations are accepted or declined.
The five Grade 1 races at Los Alamitos offering presumptive berths into the Grade 1 Champion of Champions for 3-year-olds and upwards are as follows: the (G1) Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship, set for February 18; the (G1) Vessels Maturity on July 7; (G1) Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on September 14; (G1) Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on October 12; and (G1) Los Alamitos Super Derby on November 10.
The running of the Grade 1, $350,000 The Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship is among the major races that will be strongly considered for an invitation for to the 2024 Champion of Champions. Flash Bak, the 2023 Champion of Champions winner, won last year’s Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship. Two-time AQHA World Champion Danjer won the 2022 running of this race.
As in recent years, the Grade 1 $100,000 Go Man Go on August 25 remains part of the Champion of Champions format. If any horse wins more than one race with a presumptive berth to the Champion of Champions, that berth will go to the winner of the Go Man Go. If the connections of a horse with a presumptive berth decline their opportunity to run in the Champion of Champions, that berth would also revert to the winner of the Go Man Go. All conditions and testing regulations will apply equally to the Go Man Go winner.
At least two presumptive berths to the Champion of Champions will be offered in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials to be held here on November 14. The horses with the two fastest times in the trials will advance to this year’s renewal of the Champion of Champions. Additional berths could also be available in the Directors Trials. For more info, please contact the Los Alamitos Racing Office at 714-820-2788.