The Los Al Thoroughbred Experiment

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

June 30th, 2015

The Los Alamitos Thoroughbred Experiment begins anew this Thursday with a meet from July 2 to July 12. That's not a lot of days to run thoroughbreds. All in all, Los Al put on 20 days of thoroughbred racing in 2014. The handle, according to an excellent article by Ryan Kartje in the Orange County Register, was $77,228,351. The daily handle was $3,861,418 and daily on-track attendance was terrible at 2,643.

The Kartje article compares Los Al to both the Del Mar and the Santa Anita meets. As to be expected, there's no comparison. Although I'm usually all for as much thoroughbred racing as possible, Dr. Ed Allred and the ownership group should probably consider ending the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred experiment.

Here are some of the reasons why I agree:

1. Attendance will never go up - Average daily on-track attendance at Santa Anita according to the article was 7,249. It's a lot easier for horseplayers from metro-Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to get to Santa Anita than it is to get to Los Alamitos, CA. When you account for traffic, why go to the racetrack at Los Al when you can wager through companies like BetAmerica? You could (more likely will) literally miss a race due to traffic.

2. The funky stretch is a turn off for some serious horseplayers - The homestretch is longer than any other in America. That's pretty much a direct quote from the Kartje article. Many horseplayers like to know what they're getting into. The handle might be higher if horseplayers had an idea of how jockeys and horses might respond to the funky turn and stretch. With this particular Los Al Thoroughbred Meet being so short, some horseplayers, like my brother and me, might skip playing altogether and wait for the familiarity of Del Mar.

3. Santa Anita increased its racing days - It wasn't a tit for tat when Hollywood Park closed and Los Alamitos began running thoroughbreds. Days didn't just shift from Hollywood to Los Al. Santa Anita extended its traditionally long winter/spring meet. In 2014, Santa Anita had 109 racing days. This year the Santa Anita Meet lasted from Dec. 26 to June 28. That's a lot of days of thoroughbred action at the Great Race Place. It's tough for horseplayers to get excited about a 10 day meet at Los Alamitos after betting on horses from late December to late June at Santa Anita. It's especially tough to get excited when Del Mar is around the corner.

4. Too many choices for online horseplayers - One of the advantages of playing online is the ability to pick and choose what races to play. This is a huge advantage for horseplayers looking to capitalize on specific races throughout the country. This Thursday, when Los Al opens for thoroughbred racing, Belmont and Arlington will both be running. On Friday, horseplayers can add Gulfstream and Monmouth to the mix. That's too many familiar choices for horseplayers. Why take the chance on an unfamiliar track that is known for quarter horse racing when you can wager on tracks that you've been betting on for years?
2013 Futurity FinishThe Los Alamitos Experiment has too much going against it to be successful. The location isn't conducive to garner the required on-track attendance. The handle will suffer due to unfamiliarity and the meet is too short for horseplayers to direct enough of their yearly or even monthly bankrolls. Los Alamitos should seriously consider going to back to exclusively running quarter horses.