Following a successful fall meet at Del Mar, racing in Southern California turns to Los Alamitos Race Course for a seven-day afternoon meet that precedes the winter/spring season at Santa Anita Park. The meet runs Dec. 3-12.
Fifty-six horses were entered in eight races on opening day, an average of seven horses a race. Maiden races, claiming races, and starter allowances comprise the Friday card.
The track will host its first stakes race of the meet Dec. 4 when it stages the $300,000 Starlet Stakes (G1) for 2-year-old fillies. That race is the co-richest of the season, along with the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) Dec. 11. The purse for the Futurity has been increased by $100,000 over last year, returning to the level of 2018.
Both races are potential point-earning qualifiers on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Among the leading candidates for the Starlet are Grace Adler, winner of the TVG Del Mar Debutante Stakes (G1), and Eda, a stakes winner in her last two starts. Messier is the likely favorite for the Futurity.
The Starlet and Futurity, along with the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Dec. 5, comprise the graded stakes portion of the track's five-race stakes schedule. The remaining two stakes are at one mile and for 2-year-olds bred or sired in California. The $100,000-guaranteed Soviet Problem Stakes for fillies will be run Dec. 10 while the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes for colts and geldings will be contested Dec. 12.
The Dec. 10 program will also feature a winner's circle ceremony and video presentation honoring trainer Art Sherman, who recently announced his retirement.
Sherman, 84, who has been involved in racing as an exercise rider, jockey, and trainer for more than 67 years, had his greatest success as a conditioner with two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), California Chrome was based at Los Alamitos for most of his career. Sherman is scheduled to saddle his final starter Dec. 10.
Los Alamitos also will continue to run its regular nighttime weekend programs of Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds while the afternoon higher-level Thoroughbred meet is ongoing.
The track will offer a variety of exotic wagers, including the popular Players' Pick 5—a 50-cent minimum wager with a takeout rate of 14%—on the first five races. A traditional $2 Pick Six will have a 70-30 split with 70% of the pool going to those tickets with six winners and the remaining 30% going to tickets with five of six winners.
The track will offer a handicapping contest Dec. 11, offering a cash prize and a pair of berths in the 2022 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.