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.
THAT WAS THEN:
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:
THIS IS NOW:
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.