DEL MAR — The California Horse Racing Board, intervening in a long-running dispute between state harness interests and Ed Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos Race Course, unanimously approved a reallocation of dates Thursday, clearing the way for quarter horses to race almost exclusively at the Orange County track.
By a 4-0 vote, commissioners Bob Tourtelot, Joe Fenley, Sheryl Granzella and Marie Moretti approved a schedule that will result in 49 weeks of mostly quarter horse racing at Los Alamitos next year. Occasional mixed-breed racing will also be conducted. The only down time for the track will be three weeks from mid-December until early January.
Under the new schedule, all of the state's harness dates will be raced at the Cal Expo in Sacramento. Previously, harness horsemen raced at both Los Alamitos and Cal Expo.
Allred does not expect the California Harness Horsemen's Assn. to accept the board's decision.
"This is probably just the start of some long rounds of legal battles," he said.
Attempts to reach Dave Shell, president of the harness group, were unsuccessful.
One of the disputes, Allred said, was Shell's unwillingness to accept Los Alamitos' right to evict the harness horsemen providing they are given two years' notice.
Allred has been involved in another controversy that has been settled in time for the running of tonight's $439,000 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity at Los Alamitos.
With the board having received an appeal from the owners of another horse, Allred has not entered his filly, Motherless, even though she was tied for the fourth-fastest time among the 10 qualifiers for the race. With Motherless out, Bridlewood, who posted the 11th-fastest time in qualifying races, has moved into the field for the 350-yard race.
The owners of Bridlewood, who include Wayne Lukas and his wife, trainer Laura Lukas, contended that Motherless should have been disqualified because she broke through the front of her stall just before the start, resulting in a head start of a half to three-quarters of a length. The stewards reviewed the race, which was run two weeks ago, and made no change.
Allred's decision to scratch Motherless made the Lukases' protest unnecessary.
"This is the right thing," said Donald Calabria, an attorney who represents the Lukases. "You have to give Ed Allred credit for doing what he did. It's better for horse racing that it turned out this way."
Allred will still have a horse in the Burke. His Secretly Seymour was the seventh-fastest qualifier. The fastest horses, with clockings of 17.625 seconds, were Blue Grass Bounce and Copper Buff. Blue Grass Bounce, also owned by the Lukases and trained by Laura Lukas, will be coupled in the betting with Bridlewood.
Secret Card, the top-ranked 2-year-old nationally, is also running in the Burke, after finishing third among the qualifiers. Secret Card, who beat Bridlewood by one length in their qualifier, is undefeated in her four starts.
At least one trainer was prepared to name Gary Stevens to ride in one of the weekend stakes races at Del Mar, but Stevens, who quit riding on Dec. 26 because of bad knees, was noncommittal about his return date.
"I just don't have anything to say for now," Stevens said after exercising a horse for Alex Hassinger Jr. Hassinger trains for the Thoroughbred Corp., which hired Stevens as an assistant trainer after he quit as their contract rider.
With the hiring of veteran agent Harry Hacek, Stevens appears to be setting the table for his return to the saddle sometime during the Del Mar meet.
Fusaichi Pegasus, the Kentucky Derby winner who hasn't run since finishing second to Red Bullet in the Preakness, galloped a mile Thursday at Del Mar. Trainer Neil Drysdale said that there's no target date for the colt's first workout.
"I'm still amazed at the race he ran in the Preakness," Drysdale said. "He wasn't handling the [off] track, and as they hit the turn, I thought he was going to be last. He was really just in a gallop the rest of the way, but he still held on for second."
Drysdale will run Sunshine Street against the expected favorite, Dark Moondancer, in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap, the first Grade I of the meet. A field of seven or eight will be entered today, one of them Ladies Din, who lost by a neck to Joe Who in last year's Read. The Read, at 1 1/8 miles, is a prep for the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million--now worth $2 million--in suburban Chicago on Aug. 19.
Horse Racing Notes
Red Bullet, who was found to have had a virus after his third-place finish in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 9, is still ailing and won't run in the Haskell at Monmouth Park on Aug. 6. He's scheduled to run in the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 26. . . . With Red Bullet out of the Haskell, Jerry Bailey became available to ride in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga the same day and James Bond, Behrens' trainer, hired him to replace Jorge Chavez, last year's Eclipse Award winner. . . . Bailey, riding previously undefeated Yonaguska, a $1.95-million yearling, finished second, 3 1/2 lengths behind City Zip and Jose Santos in the $100,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.