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LOS ALAMITOS : Harness Group Makes Its First Key Payment


California harness interests submitted the first in a series of payments to Los Alamitos by the Oct. 1 deadline, effectively bringing harness racing a step closer to a winter meeting at the track.

According to Los Alamitos General Manager Dick Feinberg, the payment of $50,000 was the first of three non-refundable security deposits the harness group must pay to negotiate a lease for the 1994-95 season. The second $50,000 payment is due Saturday, with the third due on Oct. 15.

"Their intention is to run (at Los Alamitos)," Feinberg said. "They intend to run starting in late December through March 25."

The dates of Dec. 22 through March 25 were approved for harness racing at Los Alamitos by the California Horse Racing Board last month. Quarter horses were approved from April 14 through Dec. 31, pending the successful negotiation of a lease between Los Alamitos and the harness interests.

The Los Alamitos lease is being negotiated by about 15 harness horse owners and horsemen called the Premier Group, which ran the harness meeting at Los Alamitos last year. One of the main driving forces behind the group is trainer Bobby Gordon.

"We're looking at racing three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, unless we have an abundance of horse population," he said. "Then we would race Wednesday through Saturday."

The meeting would be the first for harness horses in California since the 1993-1994 Los Alamitos meeting, which ended in early April. It might also be the only one in California for 1995.

Less than four months of racing in California might not seem appealing to trainers who have to travel across the country, but Gordon doesn't anticipate any problems drawing horsemen to California and is expecting 400-500 horses for the winter meeting.

"I consider myself a Californian now," he said. "I stay here because of the weather."

He and others figure the weather will draw many trainers who would rather race in California than fight the snow and cold in the northern states during the winter. But the shorter meeting in California also presents some problems for California-based trainers.

"The hardest part is that most of us from California have California owners," Gordon said. "That's our biggest problem, the lack of racing in the state and getting owners to stay involved. Too many times it's out of sight, out of mind."

Gordon, as do many trainers, also cited high worker's compensation costs as a reason many trainers steer clear of California.

Despite the short Los Alamitos meeting, the outlook for harness racing in California is improved, with the possibility of other meetings later in '95. One such possibility is Riverside Downs, a proposed track in Riverside County.

"Hopefully, we're going to get 3 1/2 months," Gordon said. "And if other things happen, we'll have more (harness racing in California)."


One of the most frustrating things for a trainer is having a good horse who, for some reason or another, doesn't reach its potential. Jumping Tac Flash seems to be such a horse.

The Tolltac filly has a reputation as a bad gate horse, and on more than one occasion has been scratched after flipping in the gate before a race. Jumping Tac Flash won last year's Miss Kindergarten Futurity impressively but later in the year had to be scratched from the finals of the California Futurity. This year has been much the same.

But in the Sept. 23 trials for Friday night's California Derby, Jumping Tac Flash minded her manners in the gate and won her trial heat with the fastest qualifying time, 19.93 seconds. Can she do it again in the final?

Trainer Blane Schvaneveldt has faith in the filly and her abilities.

"She's a runner," he said. "She just needs to get everything her way. Maybe she will this time, again.

"She was good (in the gates) the other night, and she's as good in the morning as one can be."

Jumping Tac Flash has finished first or second in 10 of 13 starts and has earned nearly $125,000. But one horse she will have to watch out for in the final is Comes A Storm.

Trained by Charles Treece, Comes A Storm finished second by a head to Jumping Tac Flash in the trials, qualifying with the second-fastest time.

"(Jockey Oscar Monroy) didn't push him at all in the trials," Treece said. "This horse can really run. The trials didn't take anything out of him."

Comes A Storm, who won the Independence Day Handicap, will be seeking his second stakes victory of the meeting.

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