Kentucky Derby Points On The Line In G2 Los Alamitos Futurity
The Los Alamitos Futurity, on Saturday, December 17, will offer 10-4-3-2-1 qualifying points for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby to the top-five finishers.
The Los Alamitos Futurity is the last major 2-year-old race on the West Coast calendar annually. It was run at Hollywood Park as the Hollywood Futurity and then the Cashcall Futurity until that track closed in 2013, 2014 was the the first year at Los Alamitos.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send out the trio of Arabian Lion, Carmel Road and Fort Bragg as he seeks his eighth win in nine years in the Grade II, $200,000-guaranteed Los Alamitos Futurity on Saturday.
The race at 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-olds is the fourth of 10 races on the next-to-last day of the Winter Thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos. Post time Saturday is 12:30 p.m. Scheduled post time for the Futurity is 2 p.m.
In addition, the Los Alamitos Racing Association will offer two seats to the 2023 National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas with a live money contest. The cost to enter the is $500. Of that amount, $100 will be placed in the contest prize pool with the remaining funds going towards a live-money wagering card. Contestants must enter prior to 1 p.m. Dec. 17. Tournament races will include the entire card at Los Alamitos with permitted wagers including win, place, show, exactas, trifectas and daily doubles. Each entry must bet at least $400 during the contest to be eligible for prizes.
The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the day will be declared the winner and the player with the second highest bankroll will be the runner-up. The winner will receive 50% of the prize pool, which will be capped at $10,000. The remaining payoffs: 20% (2nd place), 15% (3rd place), 7.5% (4th place) and 7.5% (most money wagered).
Baffert (left photo), who won the first seven Los Alamitos Futurities offered since daytime thoroughbred racing returned in 2014, had to settle for second with Messier in 2021. Trained by Doug O'Neill for owner-breeder J. Paul Reddam, Slow Down Andy won by one length a year ago. Owned by Zedan Racing Stables Inc., Arabian Lion will try two turns for the first time in his return to California.
A son of Justify and the Distorted Humor mare Unbound, Arabian Lion, who was purchased for $600,000 at the OBS sale in April, was a first out winner Oct. 9 at Santa Anita, then was second as the odds-on favorite going seven furlongs on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard Nov. 4 at Keeneland. He's banked $66,600. Owned by a large partnership that includes SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan, Carmel Road and Fort Bragg both have route victories on their resumes.
A son of Quality Road and the Unbridled's Song mare Inspired, Carmel Road defeated maidens by nearly nine lengths at eight furlongs Aug. 26 at Del Mar for his lone win in three tries. In his most recent outing, the $650,000 yearling purchase finished far back in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity Oct. 8 at Keeneland. He's banked $65,100. A $700,000 buy in October of last year, Fort Bragg graduated at the Los Alamitos Futurity distance as the 3-10 choice Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. The win came 25 days after he been disqualified from a victory and placed second as the 3-5 favorite. The Tapit colt out of the Shanghai Bobby mare March X Press has earned $58,400 in three starts.
Trainer Tim Yakteen will seek his second stakes win of the Winter meet - he won the Soviet Problem Dec. 11 with Cast Member for owner-breeder George Krikorian - when he saddles Practical Move. A son of Practical Joke and the Afleet Alex mare Ack Naughty owned by Amestoy, Practical Move stretches out again after finishing third in the Grade III Bob Hope last month at seven furlongs. Purchased for $230,000 out of the same sale as Arabian Lion, Practical Move was the beneficiary when Fort Bragg was disqualified Oct. 10 in Arcadia. The bay has earned $74,200 in four races.
Completing the field is three-start maiden Tall Boy. Trained by Leandro Mora for Calumet Farm, the Lookin At Lucky colt out of the Scat Daddy mare Madame Mayra has earned $20,000. In his most recent start, Tall Boy was a distant third behind runaway winner Spun Intended Nov. 26 at Del Mar. The Futurity will be his first attempt beyond 6 ½ furlongs.
From inside out, the field for the Los Alamitos Futurity: Tall Boy, Umberto Rispoli rides, 120 pounds; Carmel Road, Juan Hernandez, 120; Fort Bragg, Flavien Prat, 120; Practical Move, Ramon Vazquez, 120 and Arabian Lion, John Velazquez, 120.
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FUTURITY, STARLET TOP LOS ALAMITOS WINTER STAKES SCHEDULE
Four stakes for 2-year-olds - including a pair of graded races - highlight the upcoming Winter Thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos Race Course.
The six-day season is scheduled to begin Friday, Dec. 9 and continue through Sunday, Dec. 18. Post time will be 12:30 p.m. with racing conducted Friday-Sunday (Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 16-18) both weeks.
The $300,000-guaranteed Starlet, a Grade I for 2-year-old fillies, will be renewed for the ninth time at Los Alamitos Saturday, Dec. 10, one week before the Grade II, $200,000-guaranteed Los Alamitos Futurity on Saturday, December 17. The Starlet and the Futurity will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
Nominees to the Starlet include And Tell Me Nolies, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and Grade II Chandelier, Home Cooking, runner-up in the Del Mar Debutante, and Los Alamitos maiden winner Carla. Los Alamitos Futurity nominees include two-time Grade I winner Cave Rock, Gandolfini and Capote Stakes winner Hard to Figure.
The other two stakes for juveniles will be run at one mile and are ungraded. The $100,000 Soviet Problem - for fillies - will be offered Sunday, Dec. 11 while the $100,000 King Glorious will be run Sunday, Dec. 18. Both are for horses bred or sired in California.
Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes Race History
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) might be North America's championship-defining race for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, but it isn't hard to argue the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) has been the more productive race when it comes to launching Triple Crown contenders.
Inaugurated in 1981 at the now-defunct Hollywood Park, the race was originally known as the Hollywood Futurity, receiving its current name when the race moved to Los Alamitos in 2014. Regardless of its name or location, the Los Alamitos Futurity has been cranking out high-class runners for decades.
We can thank Gato Del Sol and Laser Light for putting the Futurity on the map. Although they could only finish seventh and ninth in the race's inaugural edition, they returned to run 1-2 in the 1982 Kentucky Derby, establishing the Futurity as a viable prep for the spring classics.
Others quickly followed their example. Ferdinand and Alysheba were both beaten in the Futurity, but scored back-to-back Kentucky Derby victories in 1986-87. Futurity runner-up Thunder Gulch likewise nabbed Derby glory in 1995, while Real Quiet became the first to sweep both races when he upset the 1998 Kentucky Derby. Even the improbable Giacomo, 50-1 winner of the 2005 Kentucky Derby, had stamped his Derby credentials with a second-place finish in the Futurity.
The ongoing impact of the Futurity can be attributed in part to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the race a dozen times between 1997 and 2019. Many of Bafferts victors have gone on to win or place in Triple Crown races, including Point Given (winner of the 2001 Preakness and Belmont Stakes) and Lookin at Lucky (victorious in the 2010 Preakness).
But even beyond Baffert's brigade, the list of Futurity winners reads like a "who's who" of Grade 1 winners, champions, classic winners, and/or Hall of Fame inductees, including Stephans Odyssey, Snow Chief, Best Pal, A.P. Indy, and Shared Belief.
Although the Los Alamitos Futurity was lowered from Grade 1 to Grade 2 status in 2019, it remains a prominent steppingstone on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, offering qualification points to the top four finishers on a sliding 10-4-2-1 scale.