When Richard Gardner and RTM Stables’ Honoroso (left) was named the AQHA distance champion of 2013, the gelding by Fly Jess Fly became just latest horse to win the division’s top distinction thanks in part to winning a major distance race at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Honoroso won the 870-yard $100,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge on Bank of America Racing Challenge Night on November 9, which was the only distance race contested at the Orange County oval in 2013. In fact, since 2011, the track has hosted just seven Quarter Horse races around the turn, but three of those have been stakes events. In addition to the 2011 and 2013 Red Cell Distance Challenges, Los Alamitos also hosted the 870-yard Gold Rush Derby for 3-year-olds in 2011. Los Alamitos racing officials, however, are excited to renew the distance division in 2014. Racing Secretary Ron Church noted that he will include 870-yard races in the next Los Alamitos condition book, which will begin with the racing program on Friday, February 14.
“In the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s, Los Alamitos Race Course was the premier track for a Quarter Horse to race at 870 yards,” he said. “The lineup of superstars that have competed at Los Alamitos reads like a who’s who in the history of the 870-yard division. I know that it might take a little bit of time to fill some races because horses will need to post at least one workout at 660 yards prior to racing, but I think we’ll fill some distance races in the near future.”
Major stars like three-time champions Sign Of Lanty and Griswold and two-time distance champion Snowbound Superstars were the poster boys of greatness in the division for many years. Sign Of Lanty won a record 16 stakes races around the turn here, while the 870-yard track record holder Griswold ran a thrilling and unforgettable match race against the Thoroughbred Valiant Pete at Santa Anita. Snowbound Superstar, meanwhile, won 15 consecutive starts at 870-yard – 13 of those coming at Los Alamitos. Champions like Prankster CF, Sterling Sport, Baychaino, Heros Call and so many other distance greats have plied their trade at Los Alamitos.
“This track has had so many unbelievable moments take place at 870 yards,” Church said. “We get owners, trainers and racing enthusiasts that ask about having 870-yard races. That time is now. We are going to make a concerted effort to revive distance Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos, and we are excited about seeing what develops in this division in the months to come.”
For more information on the upcoming conditions for the 870-yard races, please call the Los Alamitos Racing Office at 714-820-2788.
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