The inaugural Summer Thoroughbred Festival at Los Alamitos began successfully Thursday with encouraging attendance and handle figures.
“We're happy with opening day,'' said Brad McKinzie, general manager of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “Everything went well and everybody had a great time.
“It's a first day we can build on. Doctor (Ed) Allred (owner of Los Alamitos Race Course and president and chairman of the board of the Los Alamitos Racing Association) is happy, so we're all thrilled.''
The on-track attendance was 5,702 and the mutuel handle at Los Alamitos for the eight-race program was $531,609. The total combined handle was $4,580,023.
In the day's main event, the $101,000 Bertrando Stakes, Soi Phet, an 11-1 shot, picked up his first win on dirt, rolling to a 3 ¾ length victory over pacesetter Spirit Rules and seven others older horses bred or sired in California.
Trained by Leonard Powell for a partnership that includes Gerald and Sandra Benowitz, Mathilde Powell and Paul Viskovich, the 6-year-old Tizbud gelding took advantage of a ground-saving trip under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Never far off the pace, Soi Phet, who is out of the Siberian Summer mare Summer Jersey, angled out for clear sailing in the stretch, overtook Spirit Rules, who was nearly 10-1, with about an eighth of a mile and dew clear.
The win was the seventh in 27 starts for Soi Phet and the $60,000 payday pushed his bankroll to $352,436. He's won six of 11 since being claimed by his current connections for $16,000 May 23, 2013 at Hollywood Park.
Powell was confident Soi Phet would run well Thursday, less than one month after the dark bay's game win on the Santa Anita turf, accomplished under 129 pounds.
“It could be that this time of year is good for him because he's put on weight since he won and we haven't done anything different with him,'' said Powell. “People think he's not as good on dirt (0-for-8 prior to the Bertrando), but he ran third in a Grade I (Awesome Again last Sept. 28) behind Mucho Macho Man and that might have been his best race.''
In completing the mile in 1:34.50, Soi Phet paid $24, $11.80 and $8.40. Spirit Rules, who finished 1 ½ lengths in front of 5-1 shot Rock Me Baby, returned $11.60 and $8.20. The show price on Rock Me Baby was $4.80.
Completing the order of finish were Better Bet, Tribal Jewel, Rousing Sermon, Leaving New York, 3-2 favorite Storm Fighter and Tiz a Minister.
Jockey Elvis Trujillo, recently returned to Southern California after riding many years primarily in Florida, won twice Thursday, taking the opener with favored I'm No Patsy and the eighth and final with 2-1 choice Sheza Eyeopener, who won by 10 ¼ lengths.
I'm No Patsy, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Momentum carrying the colors of owner/breeder J. Paul Reddam, captured the opening race at the Los Alamitos Summer Thoroughbred Festival Thursday.
Trained by Ben Cecil and ridden by Elvis Trujillo, I'm No Patsy prevailed by 3 ¼ lengths while covering the mile in 1:37.36.
“This is a good track,” said Trujillo. “It's a long stretch, so I was waiting a little bit more than I would have.”
Reddam, who has campaigned several outstanding horses including 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another, was all smiles in the winner's circle.
“It's nice to make history,” he said. “I have a fondness for this track, because I raced harness horses here 30 years ago and was out almost every night.”
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