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HRN Original Blog:
Runnin' Down A Dream

Los Alamitos Race Course – Getting Better With Age

Los Alamitos 615 X 400
Photo: Los Alamitos Race Course


In order to really appreciate the new and exciting future for Los Alamitos Race Course - Taking a glimpse back in time will help us understand how believing in your dreams and hard work has been the magical component to helping Los Alamitos improve with age…


A hidden gem geographically located in the city of Cypress California, the racetrack is in close proximity to Disneyland and beaches near Long Beach California. How on Earth did a horse race track find its’ way to the middle of Orange County?


With just $19 to his name the adventure started with a Kentucky native chasing a dream in sunny Southern California.





              The course and grandstand in 1963.  Photo courtesy of Orange County Archives 


1).  With just $19 to his name Frank Vessels Sr. builds a fortune in the Construction Industry. With his fortune, he purchases a 435 acre ranch in Orange County and decides to build a race track on a portion of his ranch


2).  Los Alamitos started off as “match races” contested on the Vessels Ranch in 1947


3).  First “pari-mutuel meet” was held in 1951 which lasted 11 days


4). 1950’s produced many super-star horses with huge crowds packing the grand stands. “Go Man Go” was a super-star in his time. Over the last 60-year history the track has been home to countless Quarter Horse Champions


5). Until the 1990’s the Vessels family had always owned Los Alamitos. However, when the track was put up for sale in 1990, Ed Allred was able to acquire the property and eventually became the sole owner, and a leading breeder in the Quarter Horse sport. Today, Ed Allred is still the owner and continues to enjoy his love and passion for the sport 



Through the years Los Alamitos Race Course has seen major changes and enjoyed tremendous growth. 2014 celebrates the 63rd season of pari-mutuel racing with races in 2013 bringing in a national Quarter Horse record of over $20 million.


Most recently in the spotlight as the “Home of Chrome”, Kentucky Derby & Preakness winner California Chrome has helped put this amazing gem back on the map.

The track now sports a refined facelift, and was recently granted a license by the California Racing Board to operate Thoroughbred Horse Racing. What does this mean?


Check out the exciting things that have been going on:




1).  Like a good neighbor, Los Alamitos with its existing barns were able to allocate stalls for 500 Thoroughbred horses that needed a new home from other Thoroughbred training facilities like Hollywood Park. The track reorganized its barn allocation so the new Thoroughbred trainers would be stabled on the North side of the barn area. Arriving earlier in the year, there are somewhere around 500 new Thoroughbreds on the grounds. 200 horses are expected to arrive in the near future, so an additional 200 stalls are currently in the plans for expansion

2).  The track has created a new dirt path walking area for horses to go from the barn to the track. There will be a new apron viewing area located near the top of the stretch. Walking ring and the winner’s circle have also been expanded

3).  Along with Kentucky Derby/Preakness winning Trainer Art Sherman’s barn, Trainer Bob Baffert has around 50 horses stabled at this track. Other top trainer names with horses stabled here include Mike Puype, Mike Harrington, Kathy Walsh, Marty Jones and Brian Koriner

4).  The track now sports a new 1-mile oval and currently has the longest home stretch in North America, measuring 1,380 feet! Fairgrounds Race Course previously had the longest stretch measuring 1,346 feet. This will seem like a stretch to eternity, and I’m sure we will see some interesting battles to the finish line as the track creates its own moments to remember

5).  Also added, is new terrace seating in the upper level of the grandstand. The track has upgraded to a high-definition signal, installed new televisions, upgraded concession stands and restrooms. Improvements in the parking lot with new re-striping, new directional signage, and the front of the grandstand building has been painted

6).  Los Alamitos will play host to three Thoroughbred meets in 2014. Summer Meet July 3-13, Races picked up Fairplex Park- Meet runs September 5-21, and the Winter Season commencing December 4-21 

What does this mean for the future? EXCITING TIMES!


Just a reminder to all racing fans, this week marks the first Thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos, and the racing debut of the track’s beautiful one-mile oval!

The Summer Festival kicks off Thursday, July 3rd, and concludes Sunday, July 13th with stakes schedules that highlight over $1.1 million during the inaugural Summer meet. On opening day, the first 10,000 fans with paid admission will receive a California Chrome T-shirt!


Post time for opening day and the remainder of the eight-day season, which culminates Sunday, July 13, is 2 p.m. All gates, including the grandstand, Vessels Club and Clubhouse, will open at 9:30 a.m.


The highlight of the Summer Thoroughbred Festival is the $500,000 guaranteed Los Alamitos Derby gr. II (previously the Swaps Stakes), which will be run Saturday, July 5. This race will be tied to the $1 Million Bolton Challenge Bonus which would be paid to any horse that wins the Los Alamitos Derby (gr.2), the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr.1) August 24 at Del Mar, AND the $5 million Breeders Cup Classic (gr.1) November 1 at Santa Anita Park. Winning all three races will be no easy task, but the challenge will definitely spark excitement to the new Los Alamitos Derby. 


As the Summer festival soon begins, come out and support the California Horse Racing industry and Los Alamitos in its very first Thoroughbred Horse races! Experience a thrilling day, and come out and see the track’s newest one-mile oval and the longest stretch to eternity!


Will you be heading out there to experience this special event?

I hope to see you all at the track this weekend! 


**Special Thanks to Orlando Gutierrez, Publicity Director, Los Alamitos Race Course for providing me with information on the most recent additions made to the track.


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Older Comments about Los Alamitos Race Course – Getting Better With Age...

I went there in 2007 w/ my dad. I'd love 2 go there again 2 see the daytime t-breds & the new 1 mile track.
I love the fact that they have stepped up to help the Thoroughbreds and seem to have really embraced them as well!
I watched them the past 2 Friday nights.
Actually, the QH have been running
Actually, the QH have been running.
http://www.losalamitos.com/StakesSchedule.aspx looks to be a hiatus
Now considered the longest stretch in the U.S. Are they running quarters at night, or is the QH meet on hold?
  • Runnin · Thanks for sharing the information! I love reading about things like this. Very nice looking horse! · 695 days ago
correction: won races to age 10 not 11
won races up to age 11 and then the thankless owner sold him to connections in Utah and the poor old guy broke a leg being loaded on a truck to his new home and had to be destroyed.
2 time world champ q-horse, the Palimio Freight Train, Kaweah Bar. What an amazing runner.
nice little venue..ALWAYS has been fun there. Used to always get the best of the best quarters there. Lucky to see the two time world
I sure would like to one day add Los Al to my list of tracks that I have attended.
could have changed the stands after I was there, BUT the entire grandstand side of the course looks the same to me as when I visited it in the late 60's Don't get me wrong: I like the place, but the changes all looked out on the track side.
What an amazing transformation. From the aerial view,one can tell where the previous dimensions were. If it were not for the Historic value of Del Mar. I would of loved to of seen them give this oval an extended meet. Very impressive.

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Meet Melanie Martines

Melanie is an avid horse racing fan. She first fell in love with the sport in 2009 when she was first introduced to an article about the Pamplemousse. Her first Derby love was I Want Revenge after his spectacular win in the Wood Memorial, and would tell you that her favorite Thoroughbreds are Zenyatta, Mine That Bird and she's been following Mucho Macho Man since he was 2 years old.  

Her passion has led her to become quite knowledgeable of the sport, and has read many books on pedigree/conformation/dosage, handicapping and about great horses in racing history. She learned how to handicap a race from old-timers in the sport, and has a few favorite angles when picking a winner. 

Having a creative side to her, she is also a professional Photographer. She discovered that she was able to combine her passion for photography and horse racing and loves traveling to the California race tracks as much as she can. After returning from the Breeders' Cup races at Keeneland Race Track and experiencing the sports' first "grand-slam", the next planned adventure on her list will be Dubai for the World Cup on the last Saturday in March of 2016.
Her dream job would be behind the camera at a race track photographing everything that goes on throughout the day.
Originally from Hawaii, Melanie lives in Henderson, NV with her daughter Kaela who currently attends college. She is a graduate of UNLV and when she is not at the race track she is the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a Digital Marketing company in Las Vegas.

Visit her Sports Photography Portfolio At: 

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