2014 Los Alamitos Futurity Preview

Only one graded stakes is contested in the United States this weekend, yet it’s a goodie.  The G1 Los Alamitos Futurity is that graded stakes race and the focus of this space.  The name might throw a racing newcomer off, but this Grade One is essentially the CashCall Futurity at a different venue.

For what started in 1981 as the Hollywood Futurity has now become a pivotal puzzle piece in the Kentucky Derby picture.  In 2007, the race gained the sponsorship of loan company CashCall and became the CashCall Futurity.  Up until last year, Hollywood Park played host to this race that’s become a mid-to-late December fixture.  With Hollywood Park now a memory, the race relocates to Los Alamitos while carrying along all the plot and history.  The purse does take a trim without CashCall funds, now only a half million for the inaugural iteration on Katella.  From 1985 to 1990 the race was at a one-turn mile over at Hollywood Park; all other runnings have been at a mile and a sixteenth, this year’s inclusive.  From 2006 to 2013 this race was contested on Cushion Track, it moves to dirt, where it was from 1981 to 2005, for the 2014 renewal.

Although only one horse has ever won this race and the Kentucky Derby, that being Real Quiet in 1997, this race’s notable winners are still among racing’s best.  Snow Chief (1985) took the following year’s Preakness and has a California-bred stakes in his namesake.  Best Pal (1990) won the first Pacific Classic as a three-year-old and has a stakes in his honor at Del Mar.  A. P. Indy (1991) won the Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic at three before becoming a seminal sire.  Real Quiet (1997) is the only one to take both the Hollywood Futurity and the Derby, and missed the Triple Crown by the scantest of margins. Point Given (2000) took down the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, and Travers at three. Lookin at Lucky (2009) won the Preakness and Haskell as a sophomore. And a good finish in the Hollywood/Cashcall Futurity also can serve as a boon to success.  Horses like Alysheba, Thunder Gulch, Giacomo, and Oxbow all hit the board in this race and later went on to win at least one leg of the Triple Crown.

Real Quiet winning the 1997 Hollywood Futurity. Video courtesy Youtube.

After not being offered any Kentucky Derby qualification points last year (Editorial comment: likely done as a kick in the teeth to Hollywood Park when it was known that oval would close and putting it side-by-side with the zero-points and still on the outside looking in Illinois Derby), the race this year provides Kentucky Derby points. The winner will earn ten points, the runner-up five, the third place finisher two, and the fourth place runner leaves with one.

Also this weekend, check out Nicolle’s preview of the Prairie Bayou Stakes from Turfway Park.

Morning line odds were not available at original publish time for this race scheduled on Saturday December 20th.

Updated December 18th with morning lines.

Los Alamitos Race Course (Thoroughbred/Daytime)  — Race 8 — G1 Los Alamitos Futurity — 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt — post time 4:00 pm PT

A race that typically draws a full field only drew five this year.  Brought to you by trainer Bob Baffert and owner Kaleem Shah of Bayern fame, DORTMUND won stylishly on Stars of Tomorrow 2 Day at Churchill in a one-turn mile sitting off a moderate-to-fast pace, winning by seven and change. DORTMUND stretches out to two turns in this spot.  At first asking he won at Santa Anita and beat a next-out winner as well, and the pedigree is fine for two turns through the Big Brown-Boundary sire line, helped by a third dam that won the CCA Oaks when that was at twelve furlongs. Pacewise, with two additional stretchouts (from more sprint-like distances). DORTMUND should get a nice forward stalking trip  In here-and-now handicapping he makes sense based off that figure, off progressing from start two to start three, and off well meant connections (36% winning jockey/trainer team last two months).  Whether he’s the next Point Given or the next Declan’s Moon is a matter for another day.  Local prep winner NO PROBLEM also goes two turns for the first time, and projects the speed of the speed in this bunch.  Winner of a maiden claimer two back, he sprang the 17-1 upset in the G3 Bob Hope Stakes over the Del Mar polytrack.  While appearing to be bred for sprints (the Munnings-Speightstown sire line, out of an Orientate mare), he does deserve a crack at two turns on the stretch out and if he gets left alone on the front end, he might have enough in the tank to go the eight and a half panels.  The potential speed of the speed in a short field. D. Wayne Lukas took down last week’s G1 Startlet with Take Charge Brandi and he seeks a sweep of the stakes with MR. Z.  Taking the worst on the rail on an outside-paths favoring FallStars, he was the only speed that stayed on when it all crumbled in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Nosed out of a G3 win last out at Delta, MR. Z may have an excellent stamina pedigree, but he the fact he’s got four seconds in six starts shows he’s lacking either in the maturity department (he’s green) or the ability department (he’s the next Iowa Derby winner).  This space hasn’t been very good with his form cycle (for him in the BC Juvenile, against him in the Delta Jackpot) and will take the “use defensively with caution” treatment.

Selections:

#3 DORTMUND (4/5)

#2 NO PROBLEM (8/1)

#4 MR. Z (5/2)

Longshot: We at Picks & Ponderings take this moment to wish you Happy Holidays.  The field size came up a lump of coal, so this corner will regroup and point to races down the road that have a little more in the field size department.

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Filed under: horse racing, Los Alamitos

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