Favored Vella completed a double for trainer Jonathan Wong, rallying along the rail to win the $52,000 feature Sunday, the final day of the Los Angeles County Fair meet at Los Alamitos.
Owned by Rudy Barragan, James Gentry, Hon Cheung Kum and Hsiu Mei Tsai, the 6-year-old daughter of Treasure Ride and the Tribal Rule mare Pearl’s Rule won for the third time in 19 starts and the $30,600 payday pushed her earnings to $112,740. She completed 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.43 and paid $4.40, $3 and $2.40 as the 11-10 choice.
Ensleys Dream, a 6-1 shot who set the pace before being collared by the winner inside the final eighth of a mile, finished 2 ½ lengths back in second and returned $5.20 and $4. The show price on Spanish Channel, a 14-1 outsider who was three-quarters of a length behind Ensleys Dream, was $4.60.
The two wins – the first courtesy of first time starter Early Release in the fifth race – enabled Wong to earn a share of the training title. He finished the nine-day season with five victories, equaling John Sadler and Doug O’Neill.
Baze also won the seventh race with longshot Funkenstein. The double clinched him second in the standings behind Ramon Vazquez. Baze finished with eight wins, four fewer than Vazquez.
Jockey Kyle Frey finished the meet with a flourish Sunday, winning three races in a row – taking the fourth, fifth and sixth races with Ida Needa Drink, Early Release and Liar Liar.
Daytime thoroughbred racing will resume at Los Alamitos Friday, Sept. 16, opening day of the Autumn Festival. The seven-day meet will continue through Sunday, Sept. 25.
Another graded win for Becca Taylor highlights Los Angeles County Fair meet
A second consecutive graded stakes victory by the near-perfect California bred filly Becca Taylor and another win in the Los Alamitos Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert highlighted the Los Angeles County Fair meet. The nine-day season concluded Sunday.
Owned by breeder Nick Alexander and trained by Steve Miyadi, Becca Taylor, a 4-year-old daughter of Old Topper, went virtually gate-to-wire under jockey Juan Hernandez in the Grade II, $201,000 Great Lady M. July 4.
The victory was her ninth in 10 starts. Becca Taylor’s lone defeat came by a nose to Eddie’s New Dream in the Irish O’Brien Stakes March 19 on turf at Santa Anita.
Alexander, Miyadi and Hernandez also teamed to win the $100,000 Bertrando Stakes with the homebred Desmond Doss. The success was the second in a row in the one-mile race for older horses bred or sired in California. Abel Cedillo rode him to victory last year.
High Connection, who is owned by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, provided Baffert with his sixth consecutive win in the Derby and his seventh since daytime thoroughbred racing returned to Los Alamitos in 2014.
Hernandez was aboard High Connection, meaning the talented rider swept all three stakes offered during the LACF season.
John Sadler, Jonathan Wong and Doug O’Neill and Jonathan Wong shared the top spot in the trainer standings with five wins apiece. It was the first local title for Sadler, the second for Wong and was the eighth time O’Neill has either led or shared the title since 2014.
Riding for the first time at Los Alamitos, Ramon Vazquez won the jockey crown, finishing with 12 victories, four more than runner-up Tyler Baze.
All sources handle for the meet was up over the comparable dates in 2021 with a gain in Southern California mutuel handle helping to offset a drop in out of state handle.
“We experimented unsuccessfully with a 2 p.m. post time, but that won’t keep us from continuing to experiment in the future,’’ said F. Jack Liebau, vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “Los Alamitos was also happy to welcome back Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer and have them combine for three wins during the meet.’’
Daytime thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos in September. The seven-day Autumn Festival is scheduled to begin Friday, Sept. 16 and continue through Sunday, Sept. 25. Racing will be conducted Friday-Sunday the first week (Sept. 16-18) and Thursday-Sunday (Sept. 22-25) the final week.