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Despite Upgrades, Track Goes to the Dogs

May 30, 1996|PAUL McLEOD

What began as just another way to get a few more people to the Los Alamitos Race Course--a dog race--could become one of the most successful events there.

The Wiener Nationals, featuring a 50-yard dash for dachshunds, will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Publicity director John Petti, who came up with the idea after attending a similar event at a Phoenix dog racing track, says he has been surprised by the high level of interest from dog owners.

The nonprofit Seal Beach Animal Care Center is expected to make about $3,500 from proceeds donated by the track.

Los Alamitos Race Course is donating $1,000 to the center and owners of the winning dog will receive $500. State law prohibits any betting on the race, which will be run on the horse track directly in front of the grandstand.

Petti selected the field based on cards and letters he received. Dog owners sent pictures, poems and elaborate letters, some handwritten, some typed on fancy computers. Several were signed by paw prints. Many were printed by children.

A short, handwritten note from Brandi Mitchell, granddaughter of the track's leading horse trainer, Blane Schvaneveldt, cited family bloodlines as the reason that Stussy the dachshund should run: "I figured why not start now with my little dog and move onto bigger animals as I get older."

Petti put his own spin on the event.

"For years we have been accused of running dogs on this track," he said. "On June 1 we'll prove it."


Despite a freak accident at Los Alamitos last week, Jockey Billy Peterson expects to be aboard the nation's top quarter horse Sunday when Winalota Cash races in trials for the Remington Park Derby in Oklahoma.

Peterson, ranked sixth in Los Alamitos jockey standings with 12 victories, was loading a horse into the starting gate for a qualifying run in early-morning practice May 22, when the filly became frightened, reared up and flipped over, pinning Peterson beneath her as she hit the ground.

Peterson suffered a bruised pelvis and is expected to miss his mounts tonight, according to his agent, Monte Ohlemacher. But Peterson expects to be back in the saddle Friday.

"We were getting her into the gate and she just refused to go in," Peterson said. "She just got kind of mad and backed up and flipped over backward.

"I tried to push off her, but she decided to turn the same way I went and she followed me down and she landed right on top of me," he said.

Peterson, 23, has emerged as one of the top young jockeys in the nation. He was the leading money winner last season aboard Winalota Cash, a horse he has described as "the horse of my career." Peterson rode the gelding to almost $1.5 million in winnings last season.

Los Alamitos Notes

Peterson's misfortune was the latest in a rash of injuries to Los Alamitos jockeys this season. Guillermo Guttierez is probably through for the year after surgery to reattach his left collarbone. It was broken in a 1995 fall and then surgical pins, installed after the fall, became displaced this month. . . . Kip Didericksen, thrown from a horse three weeks ago in a practice run, returned to racing last week wearing a brace on his fractured foot. . . . Oscar Monroy was also tossed from a mount this meeting, but he escaped serious injury. . . Jockey Joe Badilla escaped serious injury when Secret Seraph, the favorite in last week's Kindergarten Futurity, flipped over on his back in the gate before the race. The gelding was scratched. . . Badilla rode Free Thinker to its fourth win in six starts in a trial for the $57,000 California Sire Cup Derby last week. . . 1995 stakes winners Blushing Sun and Beduinos Lark will run against La Primera Del Ano Derby winner Better Bet on Me in the 18-horse, $20,000 Town Policy Handicap Friday. . .A two-day seminar for prospective horse owners will be held June 7-8 at Los Alamitos. For information call the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Assn. (714) 236-1755.

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