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Orange County Race Program Draws 9,262 on Opening Night

July 08, 1986|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

Monday night's opening night of the 13-day Orange County Fair racing program at Los Alamitos Race Course was hailed, cautiously, as a success.

The meet, in its 10th season, features eight thoroughbred and two quarter horse races Monday through Saturday.

Monday night, Los Alamitos drew 9,262, surpassing last year's opening mark of 6,284.

Which was enough to put smiles--guarded, mind you--on the faces of the Fair racing officials. They're happy about the improved attendance, but that is tempered with the knowledge that last year's meet--run during the fall--collected a record-low handle of $14 million. Last year's poor showing moved Fair officials to lobby the California Horse Racing Board for a change of dates to summer.

They complained that during the Fall meet, held from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, the Fair had to compete with from the popular Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, baseball's World Series, Monday night football and even Halloween.

On Oct. 31 last year, Los Alamitos drew just 3,967, with a handle of $679,527.

"It seemed like everything was going against us," said Clint Hoose, Fair president. "That's when I really pressed hard to have dates in the summer."

Ideally, Hoose and other Fair officials would have preferred August, when they would only have to compete with Del Mar. But they say they're happy to be racing in warm weather again.

Though optimistic about the first night's returns, Hoose said he is delaying any back-slapping.

"Don't get me wrong, this is great," he said. "But I'm going to wait until Friday and Saturday to see if we can maintain this. If we do, then I'll really be happy."

Jilsie's Gigalo, with Ray Sibille aboard, won the night's featured $25,000-added Juaneno Stakes.

Jilsie's Gigalo took the lead on the backstretch then dueled second-place Cuneo in the homestretch to win in a photo finish.

Jilsie's Gigalo ran the six-furlong race in a time of 1:11.1 and earned $15,200 for owner A.I. Appleton.

Jilsie's Gigalo paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Cuneo paid $2.60 and $2.20. Third-place Chocolate Balls paid $2.20.

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