Due to an insufficient number of entries, the Los Alamitos Derby, one of the flagship events on Los Alamitos’ abbreviated summer Thoroughbred card, will run on Sunday instead of Saturday.

Los Al Derby-Postponed
The Los Alamitos Derby, won here by Uncle Chuck last year, has struggled to fill fields lately. It was postponed from Saturday to Sunday in an effort to draw more competitors. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The $150,000 Grade 3 event, which takes its 3-year-olds 1 1/8 miles around the Southern California track, drew only four entries on Wednesday, so the track will open entries again on Thursday in hope of drawing more horses to the field.

The four current runners include Bob Baffert’s Defunded, John Sadler’s Back Ring Luck, Doug O’Neill’s Ingest, and Bob Hess Jr.’s It’s My House. Originally, eight horses were nominated, with Baffert’s Classier and Hudson Ridge, Simon Callaghan’s Mr. Impossible, and Hess Jr.’s Mucho Del Oro on the nomination list. None of the four were entered Wednesday.

The current incarnation of the Los Alamitos Derby usually draws an eclectic group of second-tier and third-tier 3-year-olds looking for a stakes race in which they can be competitive. Scoring a victory in a black-type race pays dividends for a colt come breeding time, and the Los Alamitos Derby serves that purpose.

Los Alamitos Derby has scrambled for entries

The Los Alamitos Derby was a Grade 1 as late as 2001. It was downgraded to a Grade 2 in 2002, and downgraded again to its current Grade 3 status in 2017.

Scrambling for entries, however, is not a foreign concept here. Last year’s Los Alamitos Derby drew only five entries. Four left the gate after Anneau d’Or scratched due to a fever. Two of those were considered promising Baffert sophomores: eventual winner Uncle Chuck and Thousand Words.

Thanks to the pandemic-postponed Derby, the 2020 version brought Uncle Chuck 20 Derby qualifying points. It also brought Baffert his 10th Los Alamitos Derby title. He’s won the last three.

Race is a tough sell at a tough time

Los Alamitos is the smaller cousin to Santa Anita Park to the north and Del Mar to the south. It’s one of the top quarter horse tracks in the country, but since Hollywood Park’s 2014 closure, runs two Thoroughbred meets per year.

This summer meet, which serves as a quick and short bridge between the end of Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring Meet and Del Mar’s Summer Meet, started on June 25. It runs through Monday, July 5.