Summer Thoroughbred Festival begins Saturday; Soi Phet to make last start in opening day Bertrando

The first thoroughbred meet of 2019 at Los Alamitos will begin Saturday, June 29.

The 10-day Summer Thoroughbred Festival will continue through Sunday, July 14 with racing conducted – the final two weeks – on a Thursday-Sunday basis.

There will be holiday racing Thursday, July 4 with a Los Alamitos cap giveaway – with paid admission – to the first 2,000 fans. Post time each racing day will be 1 p.m.

The three-week season will be highlighted by a pair of graded stakes races – the Grade II, $200,000 Great Lady M. for fillies and mares (3-year-olds & up) at 6 ½ furlongs and the Grade III, $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.

The Great Lady M. will be run Saturday, July 6 while the Los Alamitos Derby will be offered Saturday, July 13.

The wagering menu includes the Pick Six – with the traditional 70-30 split – a pair of $1 Pick 4’s – races 2-5 and the final four races – as well as the extremely popular Players’ Pick 5 – a 50-cent minimum wager with a reduced 14% takeout rate which is offered on the first five races.

The July 6 and 13th programs will feature live money handicapping contests with as many as eight seats available to the 2020 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

The main event opening day is the $100,000 Bertrando Stakes for 3-year-olds & up bred or sired in California.

Run at one mile, the Bertrando will mark the final start for Soi Phet, an 11-year-old gelding who is a five-time stakes winner at Los Alamitos. It will go as the eighth of nine races with an approximate post time of 4:30 p.m.

Trained by Leonard Powell for a partnership that includes his wife Mathilde, the Benowitz Family Trust and Paul Viskovich, the son of Tizbud is seeking his second win in a row – and third overall – in the Bertrando. Before his narrow score a year ago, Soi Phet captured the inaugural running in 2014.

Out of the Siberian Summer mare Summer Jersey, Soi Phet has won 15 of 63 and earned $1,023,566. He is 14-for-47 with a bankroll of $986,486 since being claimed by his current connections for $16,000 May 23, 2013 at Hollywood Park.

The dark bay is unplaced in two 2019 starts, but worked well June 23 (a half-mile in 48 2/5) at Santa Anita in preparation for the Bertrando.

“He’s doing well,’’ said Leonard Powell. “He wouldn’t be running if he was not. I had him galloping out five furlongs (Sunday) in 1:01 3/5.’’

After his career concludes, Soi Phet will ship to Old Friends, a thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky. Current residents of Old Friends include Alphabet Soup, Amazombie, Arson Squad, Game On Dude, Rail Trip, Silver Charm, Touch Gold and War Emblem.

Fresh off a victory in the Grade III All American Stakes May 27 over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields, Grecian Fire will be seeking his first win at Los Alamitos.

A 5-year-old Unusual Heat gelding out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Maddie’s Odyssey, Grecian Fire has won five of 23 and banked $286,702 for owner-breeder KMN Racing LLC and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

The chestnut was third in last year’s Bertrando, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Soi Phet.

Hollendorfer also entered He Will, a 7-year-old son of Cyclotron and the Lear Fan mare Could She he owns in partnership that also includes All Schlaich Stables LLC, Team Green LLC and George Todaro.

A winner of seven of 30 with earnings of $423,496, He Will is 2-for-7 on dirt. He was second behind Soi Phet in the 2017 E.B. Johnston Stakes in his lone previous attempt at Los Alamitos.

No worse than second in three races at Los Alamitos, King Abner will be trying to make amends for a defeat as the 2-5 choice in his last start June 15 at Santa Anita.

The 5-year-old gray son of Hansen and the Salt Lake mare Margarita Salt was third in a field of four for trainer Phil D’Amato.

Owned by a partnership that includes Little Red Feather Racing, Summit Racing and Ticket to Ride LLC, the gelding has won five of 19 and earned $284,409. He was a decisive winner of an optional claimer at the Bertrando distance in his most recent start at Los Alamitos last Dec. 8.

Queen Bee to You, a 5-year-old Old Topper mare owned by Christopher St. Hilaire and Adam Vali, owns a local victory and hasn’t been worse than third in four starts at Los Alamitos.

Now trained by Andrew Lerner, Queen Bee to You switches to dirt after completing the exacta behind Cordiality in the Fran’s Valentine Stakes on turf May 12.

Out of the Touch Gold mare Silk Queen, earned her win here going 6 ½ furlongs vs. starter allowance company Sept. 23, 2017 when trained by Mike Pender.

Owned by Carolyn Sherry and Sierra Stables, Inc. and trained by Javier Sierra, Tule Fog will be switching to dirt after 14 consecutive starts on turf. The 5-year-old Surf Cat horse out of the Free House mare Teardownthatwall is 3-for-16 with earnings of $175,016.

He made his only main track appearances in the first two starts of his career. Tule Fog finished eighth of 10 in his debut July 27, 2017 at Del Mar, then was a distant third 22 days later.

From inside out, the field for the 6th Bertrando Stakes: Soi Phet, Kent Desormeaux rides, 119 pounds; Grecian Fire, William Antongeorgi III, 124; King Abner, Martin Garcia, 119; He Will, Heriberto Figueroa, 119, Tule Fog, Brice Blanc, 119 and Queen Bee to You, Ruben Fuentes, 114.

This article was released by the Los Alamitos Race Course.