Los Alamitos by the Numbers
By Candice Hare
Last week marked the beginning of the first thoroughbred horse racing meet at Los Alamitos in 23 years, and with the new expanded one mile track featuring a 1,380 feet long stretch — the longest in America — many wondered how the track would play and who would come out on top. Halfway through the meet, some of the answers are surprising.
Interestingly, regardless of having the much publicized longest stretch in the US, in the twelve route races that have been run, only two winners did not have the lead at the top of the stretch. In fact, the furthest back an eventual route winner has been entering the stretch was Rusty Road, a Richard Mandella trained son of Point Given who was one-half length behind coming off the far turn.
It really has paid to be forwardly placed at Los Alamitos. Of the 33 winners in the first half of the meet, 31 of them either had the lead or were within three lengths of the lead at the first call. The only horse who went on to win after being more than five lengths back at the first call was Warren’s Assassin, who won by a head in a 5.5 furlong sprint after being six and one quarter lengths back early.
Regardless, while forwardly placed horses have done much of the winning, only four horses have won gate-to-wire (out of 33 total races). All four of those wins were in sprints.
Also surprising is the margin of victory of the bulk of the route races, thus far. While one might think a long stretch would provide for close finishes, that hasn’t been the case. Aside from Legacy’s win by a nose in the Cypress Stakes, the closest finish for a route has been 0.75 lengths, the average margin of victory is over 3.75 lengths, and two routes have been won by over 10 lengths (Sheza Eyeopener and Wicked Heat).
But, how about the people behind the horses? Many of the usual suspects from Southern California have already had runners at Los Al and at first glance, some of the stats jump right off the page.
One of the big winners so far has been Kelly Castaneda, who ran two horses with local experience, both of whom won at big odds (10.0, 14.2). Jockey Gerardo Gavica, one of the top local riders during the quarter horse meets, rode both of those winners, bringing his record to 4: 2-0-0 and the duo’s to an undefeated 2: 2-0-0. If you placed a $2 win bet each of Gavica’s rides, you’d have a profit of $44.40.
Other trainers who early on have done well include Philip D’Amato (4: 2-1-0, $17.60), Ronald Ellis (3: 2-0-1, $12.80), and Bob Baffert (9: 2-1-2, $4.80). While it’s not surprising to see Baffert have winners in Southern California, both of his have come at odds of 3.7 and 5.7, the latter of which being the “other Baffert runner” in the only field where he had multiple entries.
On the flip side, some of the bigger names in Southern California have struggled. Most notably, Peter Miller and Jerry Hollendorfer only have one win each in five and eight respective starts. Doug O’Neill has zero wins in eleven starts.
As far as jockeys are concerned, Edwin Maldonado (16: 3-4-1) may not have the best winning percentage, but his winners have been at prices. If you bet $2 to win on each of his 16 mounts, you’d have made $20.40 profit. Martin Garcia (13: 3-1-2, $11.00) and Drayden Van Dyke (19: 5-8-1, $10.00) have also fared well early on at Los Al.
At first glance, Joe Talamo (17: 5-3-4) has won at a nice rate and has had the vast majority of his runners in the top three, but the winners he’s had have not had high odds, resulting in a $5.20 loss if you played a $2 win bet on each of his runners. On the flip side, only bet his mounts in routes, and you’re back in the black (9: 4-1-1, $3.60).
I’ll leave you with a few other notable Los Al stats from the first half of the meet. Good luck and enjoy the second half of what has been a fantastic meet.
Candice Hare was born and raised in Southern California where she attended and graduated from the University of California: Riverside with a degree in mathematics. She handicaps races on her website ‘Capping with Candice and is the co-host of a weekly YouTube race preview show entitled “Down to the Wire.”
You can follow Candice on Twitter @Chare889.