David Cook has gone from the back door to the red carpet.


     When he was a student at St. Anthony's High School in Long Beach 30 years ago, he would attend Los Alamitos Race Course with a group of friends during the summer.


     "We'd wait until the seventh race when it was free to get in," Cook recalled.  "Then we'd walk across the street to avoid paying parking.  The summer of our high school year, we went to the track almost every single night."


     Today, the 49-year-old West Covina real estate developer is a prominent horse owner at Los Alamitos Race Course.  He is currently the leading Thoroughbred owner at the track this season with nine victories.  His silks have been featured in Thoroughbred races at Los Alamitos more than any other owner with his stable accounting for 33 starts.


     What makes Cook's success more remarkable is that he decided to become an owner less than a year ago and has taken one of the more unique routes to the winner's circle.


     "We probably talked about it when we were kids," Cook said.  "It's just we waited a long time to get involved."


     One of the people that would regularly accompany Cook to Los Alamitos Race Course 30 years ago was Dominic Fama.  Fama went on to become a trainer in Northern California from 1988 to 1995.  Fama and Cook then began to work together in the real estate business.  The two would return occasionally to Los Alamitos Race Course to have dinner in the Vessels Club.  Last May, they decided to become more involved in the racing scene.


     "Rather than be a fan and watch this, why not try to get a horse and do it yourself," is how Cook explained it.


     So on May 28, 2005, Cook claimed the Thoroughbred Misty'sgoldentouch.  The horse was sixth, beaten 19 1/4 lengths, that night.  However with Fama conditioning, Misty'sgoldentouch went on to win three races for Cook before being claimed.


     "And it's kind of one of these things that once you get one horse, you got 10 horses," said Cook, whose stable has grown since that time to around 10 horses.  "It makes it a little easier to buy the next horse when the first horse is winning.  We kind of expanded."


     Cook acquires most of his horses via claiming races.


     "David and I aren't really that bad of handicappers," Fama said.  "We really don't have the time to go to the races every night and look at every horse every night and try to get the inside scoop.  So we're pretty much just reduced to looking at the racing form or the program and picking a horse that we think is pretty good in that particular theater of horses - $3,200, $2,500, $5,000.  He picks them, and it's my job to fix them or keep them where they're at so they can compete at that level or maybe a little bit higher."


     Fama and Cook found a winning formula very quickly.  In fact, both Cook and his wife, Susan, were winning owners on the same night when David's Razcal and Susan's My Stars both won Thoroughbred races on Jan. 29.


     Fama said he would eventually like to help Cook break the record for Thoroughbred victories by an owner in a season at Los Alamitos set by the Grand Slam Racing Stable with 37 wins in 2004.


     Indeed Cook has come a long way since his first visit to Los Alamitos Race Course more than 30 years ago.


     "We used to sit in the cheap seats and walk in from across the street and try to get in for free, and he said it would be kind of cool to go the full circle and see both of us in a winner's circle picture," Fama said.