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Los Alamitos Futurity 2017: Odds and analysis

The Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity drew small field -- just five -- to compete Saturday for the $300,000 purse and qualifying points for the 2018 Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Futurity nine times since 1997, including the last three in a row with Mastery, Mor Spirit, and Dortmund. The Hall of Famer has a great chance to continue his winning streak with the two likely favorites in
McKinzie and Solomini.

The Futurity was first run at Hollywood Park in 1981, and continued there until the Inglewood, Calif., track closed in December of 2013. Since then the race has been run at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Currently, the  1 1/16-mile race is sponsored by CashCall, which is a consumer lending company owned by two-time Kentucky Derby winning owner J. Paul Reddam. Neither he nor his trainer Doug O’Neill have won the race, however.

You have to go back 20 years to Baffert’s first victory in the Futurity to find a Kentucky Derby winner in Real Quiet, who was owned by Mike Pegram the owner of McKinzie. However, five other Futurity participants have been victorious in the Run for the Roses; from Gato del Sol in 1982 to Ferdinand and Alysheba in 1986 and 1987, then Thunder Gulch 1995, and Giacomo in 2005.

Nominations for the Futurity closed on Aug. 31
 with 101 horses named – 35 from Baffert, while Jerry Hollendorfer and Doug O’Neill both had 12.

The Futurity is carded as Race 3 of 9 with a 4:58 p.m. ET post time. Here's a look at the field:

Instilled Regard [ML 4-1 - Arch – Hollendorfer/Van Dyke – 3: 1-1-1 - $48,000] This $1,050,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sale 2-year-old purchase, broke his maiden in his third try at Santa Anita. In his debut, he finished second to St. Patrick’s Day, the Baffert-trained full brother of American Pharoah. He was the even-money favorite in his second start, when was third behind another Baffert firster. His win came going two turns as the odds-on favorite. Needs to keep improving

For Him [ML 15-1 - Violence – Pender/Maldonado – 4: 1-1-0 - $28,345] This Maryland-bred was a $30,000 purchase at the Barrett’s March 2-Year-Old Sale. He broke his maiden in his third try, which was a $50,000 claimer going a mile at Del Mar in August. Most recently, he finished fourth in a Santa Anita mile overnight turf stake at odds of 72-1. Distance shouldn’t be a problem, but the level of competition certainly will be. The longshot

Solomini [ML 7-5 - Curlin – Baffert/Prat – 3: 1-2-0 - $436,000] This Zayat Stables runner has the strongest resume in the field with a second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Good Magic, but ahead of Bolt d’Oro. He also ran second in Bolt d’Oro’s huge victory in the Grade 1 FrontRunner. Solomini is currently ranked third with 12 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, and he was bet to odds of 22-1 as fifth choice in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1. The $270,000 Keeneland yearling purchase should get a desirable stalking trip, and we know he can handle the distance. Good value as second choice.

Runaway Ghost [ML 8-1 - Ghostzapper – Machowsky/Talamo – 3: 2-1-0 - $73,550] This son of Ghostzapper leads the field with two career victories, with those in a second-try maiden at Santa Anita and then the Golden Nugget Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths going wire-to-wire on the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields. Home-bred by the owner, Runaway Ghost was the odds-on favorite in that six-furlong stake. He has run well in all three starts and was well-regarded in his debut. Must be considered.

McKinzie [ML 6-5 - Street Sense – Baffert/Smith – 1: 1-0-0 - $30,000] After a smashing debut victory at Santa Anita in a seven-furlong maiden special weight in October, McKinzie ended up as the 12-1 third choice in the first KDFW. The $170,000 Keeneland sale yearling won his debut after a stalking trip and drew off to a 5 1/2-length victory in a respectable time of 1:22.70. He will face a big challenge going two turns for the first time against more experienced runners with success in stakes racing. Will be a very popular favorite.

The small field makes the Futurity a difficult race for wagering purposes. If McKinzie is even half the horse that all of the hype says he is, then he should earn his first Kentucky Derby points easily. The Baffert runner will be a heavy favorite, so finding any value in the race will be difficult. An exacta bet with second choice Solomini is not the way to go, especially because Runaway Ghost or Instilled Regard have a chance to get the place spot.

Suggested wager: Exacta Key Box McKinzie with Runaway Ghost and Instilled Regard.


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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