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Early Love of Horses Still Paying Dividends

Horse racing: Anaheim doctor has success in partnership, especially at Los Alamitos.

November 03, 2000|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When he was growing up in the dairy town of Artesia, Dr. James Streelman raised horses in the backyard of his family's home near what is now the Cerritos Mall.

"Things have changed a lot since then," Streelman said.

The dairy farms are gone, and Streelman and his childhood friend Dennis Boer own about 60 horses in several Western states. Their filly, Secret Card, is the favorite tonight in the $558,200 Golden State Futurity for 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Streelman, 55, laughs as he details how he became involved in horse racing 18 years ago. The two former Cerritos Valley Christian High classmates and a third man--the "Three Dutchmen," according to Streelman--had dropped a lot of cash in Las Vegas and were on their way back to Southern California when they decided on a whim to buy a quarter horse.

"The other guy brought about 60 people to the first race at Los Alamitos and the horse ran dead last," Streelman said. "That was the last we saw of [that guy]."

But Streelman, a family physician who lives and has a practice in Anaheim, and Boer, an Idaho dairyman, pushed on with their Dutch Masters III racing partnership.

"My partner and I like a little action," Streelman said. "And I've always been a horse person. My father bought me a horse when I was 8 years old, and when I went off to college, I sold about a half dozen horses I had accumulated."

Boer, too, had a life-long relationship with horses. He was raised on a dairy farm near Cerritos College and raised horses there. He says he has never regretted jumping at the chance to join his friend in their venture.

"This is a way to maintain our friendship," said Boer, who raises from five to 10 of the pair's horses each year on his farm near Boise. "Our business has gotten bigger and bigger and the excitement has gotten better."

After that dreadful first race, Streelman and Boer continued to take their lumps with several quarter horses. Then, in 1985, they hooked up with trainer Bob Baffert. He sent out the partnership's first success story, Zure Hope Again, who won the 1988 Los Alamitos Derby and the 1989 Go Man Handicap.

Meanwhile, Streelman and Boer were branching out into thoroughbreds, ranching and the breeding business. One of their earlier quarter horses, Easy Henryetta, went on to become the broodmare that produced champion 3-year-old Four Forty Blast and Golden State Derby winner Holland Ease.

By last year, Dutch Masters III had had major stakes race successes with Romeo Ryon, CB Hummer and California Sires Cup Derby winner Pride of Katella.

Streelman has a simple philosophy in choosing a horse.

"I like any horse that can win a race," he said.

But he prefers quarter horses over thoroughbreds.

"They are more awesome, so much more physically appealing," he said. "Also, quarter horses race at night and we can go watch them. Any time one of our thoroughbreds is running, it's usually in the daytime and I have patients to see."

Boer regularly flies to Southern California to check on the horses they own, and, he says, he is on the telephone daily with Streelman and trainers at Los Alamitos.

Secret Card has become one of the most talked-about fillies of the season.

She is unusual because she was foaled after her embryo was retrieved from one of Streelman's first horses, Doc's First Card, and implanted in another broodmare.

In winning the Kindergarten Futurity, she posted the fastest time ever turned in by a 2-year-old at 300 yards--15.27 seconds. She was second to Dashing Knud in the Ed Burke Memorial Futurity, then fell ill with a throat infection and wound up fourth in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Breeders Futurity.

Trainer Jaime Gomez says Secret Card proved she is healthy again by posting the best time in qualifying for tonight's Futurity.

"She looked super good and she ran so fast," Gomez said. "We've controlled the problem and if we can keep it that way, I think we've got a good chance to win the final."

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