Los Alamitos wrapped a successful first Summer Thoroughbred Festival Sunday, averaging more than $5 million ($5,070,966) daily in total combined mutuel handle.
“It was a great first step for Los Alamitos,’’ said Brad McKinzie, vice president and general manager of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “We put on a good show and that was our main goal. We could always use more horses, but everybody could use more horses. We’re happy.’’
The first thoroughbred meet at the venue since the final Orange County Fair season in 1991 was highlighted by the victory of Shared Belief, the undefeated champion 2-year-old of 2013, in the inaugural Los Alamitos Derby July 5.
In his first appearance on dirt for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and a large ownership group that includes sports radio and television personality Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC, Shared Belief – under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith - was dominant in the Grade II, $500,500 Derby.
In the process, he won the first leg of the $1 million Bolton Challenge. Sponsored by the Los Alamitos Racing Association and the California-based insurance brokerage firm Bolton & Company, the Challenge will award the seven-figure prize to a horse able to win the Los Alamitos Derby, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Aug. 24 at Del Mar and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Hollendorfer and Smith also combined to win the eight-day meet’s other graded race, capturing the $200,500 Great Lady M. Stakes July 12 with the California-bred Doinghardtimeagain.
Thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in September. The California Horse Racing Board voted unanimously in June to transfer the dates formerly run at Fairplex Park in Pomona to Los Alamitos.
The 11-day season will commence Friday, Sept. 5 and continue through Sunday, Sept. 21. Apart from opening weekend, racing will be conducted on a Thursday-Sunday basis.