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LOS ALAMITOS : Connections Face $50,000 Decision

August 05, 1993|STEVE ANDERSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's decision time for Abigail Kawananakoa and Connie Hall, owner and trainer of A Classic Dash, the 2-year-old quarter horse who won the Dash For Cash Futurity on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Should they spend $50,000 to make the colt eligible for the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M., on Sept. 6 or stay in California and run in the Ed Burke Futurity and the Governor's Cup Futurity?

The All American is the Kentucky Derby of quarter horse racing, an event that owners and trainers dream about. A Classic Dash's two-length victory in the Dash For Cash Futurity was his fifth winning effort in six starts, and his third success in as many tries at 400 yards, only 40 yards shy of the All American Futurity distance.

"He came back really super," Hall said. "We have a nice horse, and maybe we're not giving him the opportunity if we don't (enter him at Ruidoso Downs)."

The $50,000 supplement--highest entry fee in quarter horse racing--gets a horse into the gate for a 440-yard time trial. In previous years, two sets of trials were held to determine the 10 finalists, but this year, time trials are scheduled only on Aug. 20.

Conditions can sometimes change in the course of an afternoon at Ruidoso Downs, in the southern New Mexico mountains, and that factor makes the $50,000 supplement quite a gamble. This year's purse for the All American is expected to reach $1.7 million, the richest purse in quarter horse racing.

The All American Futurity has not been easy for California horses in recent years. Eastex, who won the 1984 Dash For Cash Futurity, also won the New Mexico race, but two subsequent Dash For Cash winners, Sig Hanson in 1988 and Takin On the Cash in 1990, failed in the All American Futurity.

In 1991, Ed Grimley, winner of the Bay Meadows Futurity, was the 7-5 favorite in the All American Futurity but finished second to Royal Quick Dash. No California-based horse ran in last year's final at Ruidoso Downs.

Immediately after Friday night's race, Hall wasn't especially interested in the All American Futurity, but by midweek she had started to entertain the idea.

"He's as good a horse as I've had," Hall said. "He doesn't have that exploding speed from the gate that Chicks Beduino had, but this horse can accelerate after 50 yards. (Jockey) Eddie Garcia said they better watch out when this horse learns to break."

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The Horsemen's Quarter Horse Racing Assn. has announced a new stakes race, the Los Alamitos Million, which will make its debut in 1995 and have a major impact on 2-year-old racing in California.

The first Los Alamitos Million will be for horses born this year. The HQHRA is adding $250,000 to the purse, making it the highest added-money event in quarter horse racing. Currently, the Champion of Champions has a guaranteed purse of $250,000, and the Texas Classic Futurity, which will run for the first time in November at Trinity Meadows near Ft. Worth, will have an added-money purse of $200,000. There are also several quarter horse races with added purses in the $100,000 range.

The estimated final purse of the Los Alamitos Million, after owners pay a series of eligibility payments, is expected to be $800,000-$1 million. As a result, several smaller futurities, such as the Kindergarten, Miss Kindergarten, Dash For Cash and California, will not be held in '95, but the Ed Burke, Golden State, Governor's Cup, Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Breeders and California Sires Cup will stay.

"We were just running too many futurities," said Edward Allred, president and chief executive officer of the HQHRA. "It is our hope by cutting some of the futurities out of the schedule, the remaining futurities--and in particular the Los Alamitos Million--will enjoy bigger purses."

In the early 1980s, the purse for the Dash For Cash Futurity frequently topped $800,000 or $900,000, more than $1 million when the consolation purse was included. This year's Dash For Cash Futurity purse of $139,100 attracted only 15 horses for the mid-July trials.

The decline of 2-year-old racing in California has coincided with the emergence of races for that age group in Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Owners who once shipped horses here are now staying home.

Los Alamitos Notes

Mongoose First won the $10,725 Huntington Beach Stakes for 3-year-old quarter horses Friday. Owned by Tom McEwen and trained by Dennis Givens, Mongoose First scored by half a length over Brotherly. Mongoose First was ridden by Jim Lewis. The Huntington Beach Stakes was a late addition to the schedule, as is Saturday's $10,000-added Cypress Stakes for 2-year-olds, which drew 23 entries.

Refrigerator, the reigning world champion quarter horse, won his first 1993 stakes Sunday in the World's Championship Classic at Ruidoso Downs. Refrigerator's next start is expected to be in the Los Alamitos Championship on Sept. 18.

The World's Championship Classic carried an automatic berth for the Champion of Champions, but because Refrigerator already had a place because of his victory in last year's Champion of Champions, the World's Championship Classic berth will be decided in the late-November trials, from which at least six horses will advance to the finals. The only other horse already set for an automatic berth is Deceptively, who won the Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs earlier this year. Tho other automatic berths will be determined in the Los Alamitos Championship and the Breeders Championship Classic Nov. 13 at Los Alamitos.

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