An upset by Slow Down Andy in the Grade II, $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity, a fifth consecutive win in the Grade I Starlet for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and a retirement ceremony for trainer Art Sherman were among the highlights of the seven-day Winter Thoroughbred meet, which concluded Sunday.
A homebred son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist owned by J. Paul Reddam and trained by Doug O’Neill, Slow Down Andy surprised 1-2 favorite the Baffert-trained Messier Dec. 11, ending Baffert’s streak of seven wins in a row in the Futurity.
In the Starlet, Eda, the 11-10 favorite, prevailed, continuing a run for Baffert that has seen him win the prestigious race for 2-year-old fillies five of the eight years it has been offered at Los Alamitos.
Baffert also won the meet’s other graded race, capturing the Grade III, $100,500 Bayakoa with favored As Time Goes By for Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
The two other stakes were for 2-year-olds bred or sired in California. Professors’ Pride went gate-to-wire in the $101,500 Soviet Problem for Larry and Carolyn Samovar’s Academic Farms and trainer Eddie Truman while 2-1 second choice Straight Up G led throughout to take the $102,000 King Glorious for owner-breeder Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC and trainer Richard Baltas.
Sherman, 84, was honored Dec. 10 minutes after he saddled his last career starter – Chasing Alchemy, who finished seventh in a $50,000 maiden claimer for 2-year-olds. The popular trainer, who has been involved in racing for more than 65 years, finished his career with 2,261 wins. His most famous pupil was two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, who was based at Los Alamitos for most of his career.
Baffert topped the trainer standings with five victories, one more than Lorenzo Ruiz. It was the 13th meet he has either led or shared the title since daytime thoroughbred racing returned to Los Alamitos in 2014.
Baffert had the most wins (13) for the year at Los Alamitos, combining the Winter meet with the Summer Thoroughbred Festival (June 25-July 5) and the Los Angeles County Fair season (Sept. 10-26). Peter Miller and Steve Miyadi tied for second with 11.
A closing day triple double enabled Abel Cedillo to win the jockey title, his second in a row locally after taking the LACF meet. The 32-year-old native of Guatemala finished with nine wins, three more than Tyler Baze, apprentices Ricardo Ramirez and Diego Herrera and Kyle Frey.
For the year at Los Alamitos, Cedillo totaled 35 wins, 14 more than closest pursuer Juan Hernandez. Frey and Herrera shared third with 16.
All sources handle for the Winter meet was up 11% on a comparative basis over 2019, which was also a seven-day season.
Handle at California satellite locations declined 23%, but advance deposit wagering in Southern California increased 61%. “We’re pleased with how things went for the days we raced, but disappointed we aren’t able to run next week,’’ said F. Jack Liebau, vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Association.
Daytime thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in 2022. The first of three meets is scheduled to begin Friday, June 24 and continue through Sunday, July 10.