Theora Barnum, the only female in Friday's five-horse Invitational Trot at Los Alamitos, won by a neck in the opening-night feature of the summer-fall harness meeting.
Theora Barnum made her first start at age 5 last year, three years after most horses begin their careers. She raced 17 times last year, winning four and more than $11,000. In December, she was injured during a race in Chicago, and owner Richard Barnum of Chino faced some tough decisions.
He gave Theora Barnum the winter off before turning her over to trainer-driver Gerry Kazmaier at Los Alamitos in the spring. Barnum told Kazmaier that if the horse didn't make it back to the races, he was considering having her killed.
Theora Barnum lost her first three starts of the year, but has since won seven of her past 14 starts, including Friday's $10,000 trot, in which she was timed in 2:00 1/5.
"They were going to send her to the killers and they gave her one more start and this is how she turned out," Kazmaier said. "She's 6 years old, but is fairly green. She's very consistent."
The third betting choice of the crowd of 3,029 at 5-2, Theora Barnum went to the rail at the start and lost her toughest competition in the first quarter-mile when Captain Paul, the 6-5 favorite, went off-stride. She was never headed, but had to hold off a fast-closing Table Card and Oliver Je Bear in the stretch.
Theora Barnum paid $7.80, $2.80 and $2.80. Table Card, who is trained by Los Alamitos newcomer Nick Sodano, paid $3.20 and $2.80, and Oliver Je Bear paid $2.80.
Kazmaier said Theora Barnum would remain in the invitational class this year and might also start in an upcoming series.