Key angles for Los Alamitos final week
July 11, 2017 3:06 AM
by Jon Lindo
The Los Alamitos Summer Racing Festival is just two weeks long. What did we learn during opening week that we can apply to the final four days this week in order to cash some tickets?
Looking for a possible track bias, it was readily apparent jockeys preferred to keep their mounts off the rail whenever possible. Instead of trying to cut the corner along the rail around the far turn, most chose to angle wide for a clear path down the long Los Alamitos stretch. While all running styles appeared to have a chance, tactical speed on the outside in the 5-1/2 furlong sprints were dominant.
It is important to consider pool size when determining the amount of your wager. The 14% takeout Pick Five had a respectable average pool of $222,536 opening week. The Late Pick Four was also solid with an average pool size of $272,407. The Pick Six pools were a little light, however, as the average for opening week was just $50,250. Remember, all three wagers have a mandatory payout this Sunday. Do note the Pick Six average should climb on Thursday when there is a carryover of $47,450 going into the card.
Apprentice Evin Roman, coming off a torrid final month at Santa Anita where he tied for leading rider, took a couple of races to figure out the unique Los Alamitos track configuration and long stretch, but he continues to win races in bunches and finished the first week with nine.
As far as the veteran riders go, Mario Gutierrez had three wins opening week after previous success at Los Alamitos. And while he does not take many calls there, nobody rides Los Alamitos with the long stretch better than Kent Desormeaux.
Trainer Mike Puype was ice cold during the Santa Anita meet, but his locally based stable hit the ground running opening week with three wins from eight starts. The home court advantage could be in play during this closing week, too. Doug O’Neill saddled the most starters the first week (13), and also had three winners.
Los Al Derby
The final Stakes race of the meet is the Grade III Los Alamitos Derby this Saturday. The Bob Baffert-trained West Coast, an impressive winner of the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard, is likely for the $200,000 Grade III event in what may be a prep for the major three-year-old dirt races back east this summer. The race helped bring Shared Belief to the national spotlight in 2014. It will be interesting if West Coast could be the late-developing 3-year-old the Baffert stable is looking for after being very quiet through the Triple Crown series in 2017.
Stat of the Week
Thru July 7, jockey Mike Smith has had 144 mounts in 2017 for total earnings of $19,947,041. That is an average earnings per mount of $138,521. Incredible.
Del Mar bound
The stable area at Del Mar opens this Thursday, with the training track open for training on Friday and the main track open for the first time this Saturday. Opening day is Wednesday, July 19, so we will keep an eye on the early tabs to note which barns are here early getting in last works hoping to get off to a fast start at Del Mar.
One other new factor will be the change in banking of the Del Mar main track. In April, Del Mar increased the banking on the main track from two percent to four percent in an effort to be consistent with the banking at Santa Anita. It may not sound like much, but doubling the banking may help some of the horses trying to rally wide who simply got hung out to dry entering the short stretch in the past. We will keep an eye on morning workouts to see if there is any obvious change prior to opening day.
Play of the Week
Los Alamitos, Thursday, Race 7 – Fact of Life (post 6). Comebacking filly from the Baffert stable was nipped by eventual Grade I Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman last fall at Del Mar and has trained very well for return. She will be very tough to beat and a single in the carryover Pick Six sequence.