Graded Stakes victories by Gamine, Classier highlight Summer Meet
Graded stakes successes by the Bob Baffert-trained pair of Gamine and Classier highlighted the Summer Thoroughbred Festival at Los Alamitos. The brief seven-day season concluded Monday.
The 2020 female sprint champion, Gamine earned her sixth graded victory Monday, cruising by 10 lengths in the Grade II, $200,000 Great Lady M.
Owned by Michael L. Petersen, the 4-year-old Into Mischief filly out of the Kafwain mare Peggy Jane is now 8-for-9 in her career and has banked $1,406,500. She also made Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez a winner in his Los Alamitos debut.
A son of Empire Maker and the Bernardini mare Class Will Tell, Classier edged favored stablemate Defunded by a nose to continue Baffert’s dominance of the Grade III, $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby July 4.
The win by Classier, who is owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Golconda Stables, Siena Farms LLC and Robert Masterson, was the fifth in a row in the Derby for Baffert and his sixth in seven years.
Mike Smith rode Classier in the gate-to-wire victory and it was the second win in the race for the Hall of Famer. Smith was aboard Shared Belief in the inaugural running in 2014.
Peter Miller topped the trainer standings with four wins, the fifth time he has either led outright or shared the title at Los Alamitos since thoroughbred racing returned in July, 2014.
Juan Hernandez, who shared the 2020 Summer riding title with Edwin Maldonado, edged Abel Cedillo 9-8 to capture the 2021 crown.
Apprentice riders also had their share of successes at the meet. Cesar Ortega, Emily Ellingwood, Jessica Pyfer and Diego Herrera combined to win 15 races. Ortega led the quartet with seven victories, good for third in the standings.
The wealth was spread during the two racing weeks as 38 different trainers and 50 different owner/partnerships won the 61 races offered.
“I see it as a positive so many different connections were able to win races during the meet,’’ said F. Jack Liebau, vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “I believe it is important for the health of racing in California that some owners and trainers enjoy more success at Los Alamitos than either Santa Anita or Del Mar.’’
All sources handle for the meet, was up around 10% over comparable dates in 2019, the last time spectators were permitted to attend. Complete mutuel handle numbers will be available in the coming days.
According to Liebau, the increase exceeded expectations for the season and was fueled substantially by advance deposit wagering.
Daytime thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in September. The 10-day Los Angeles County Fair meet will begin Friday, Sept. 10 and continue through Sunday, Sept. 26. Racing will be conducted Friday-Sunday the first two weeks (Sept. 10-12 and Sept. 17-19) and Thursday-Sunday (Sept. 23-26) the final week.
Heavily-favored Gamine cruises in closing day Great Lady M Stakes
Heavily-favored Gamine added to her glowing resume with a 10-length romp in the $200,000, Grade II Great Lady M Stakes Monday – the final day of the Summer Thoroughbred Festival – at Los Alamitos.
The 1-5 choice in the field of five, the 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief and the Kafwain mare Peggy Jane broke sharply under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, was headed briefly to her inside by 3-1 second choice Edgeway nearing the turn, then took charge from there to win without ever being asked for her best.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owner Michael L. Petersen, Gamine is now 8-for-9 with earnings of $1,406,500. Six of her victories have come in graded events.
Gamine paid $2.40 and $2.10 in a race where there was no show wagering. She attracted $248,224 of the $292,855 wagered to place in the Great Lady M, creating a minus place pool of $33,822. She completed the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.98.
Bella Vita, the second longest shot in the field at 22-1, edged Road Rager, the longest price on the board at 45-1, by a neck for second. The place price on Bella Vita was $9.
Edgeway and Qahira, who is also trained by Baffert, completed the order of finish. Candura, Dynasty of Her Own and Eyes Open were scratched earlier in the day.
“It was nice to see a lot of people come to the paddock to get a good luck at her,’’ said Baffert, who won the Great Lady M for the fourth time after scoring previously with Fantastic Style (2015) and Marley’s Freedom (2018-2019).
“That’s what great horses do. When she runs I get nervous and I’m more relieved after the race. She looked great and I’m glad she came through.
“She might be able to stretch out. She’s getting older and more mature. That’s one option I’ve been thinking about, but I don’t know what we’ll do next. I want to see how she comes out of this and I’ll let her tell me.’’
Velazquez, who has been aboard for all of Gamine’s graded successes, is now 1-for-1 at Los Alamitos after Monday.
“I know she’s quick and the other horse (third place finisher Road Rager) showed speed and I knew the horse to beat (Edgeway) was inside of me,” he said. “She relaxed and I let her do her thing around the turn and that was it from there.”