The Cypress, California neighborhood of Los Alamitos is home to the Los Alamitos Race Course. Both thoroughbred and quarter horse races are held at the track. More than any other track in the United States, this one hosts four quarter horse stakes events with total prizes of over $1 million. The track’s physical location is within Cypress, although it’s mailing address is in Los Alamitos (ZIP Code 90720). The city of Los Alamitos can be reached by crossing Katella Avenue to the south.
Coming from Kentucky with barely $19, Frank Vessels Sr. made his fortune in construction and bought a 435-acre (176 hectare) property in Orange County. In 1947, match races were held on the Vessels Ranch, the forerunner of today’s Los Alamitos.
In 1951, Los Alamitos hosted its inaugural parimutuel meet. The conclusion of the 11-day conference came on the 15th of December. Of the eleven days of the first-ever competition, ten were rained out. Many hours were spent by Frank Vessels and his family during this first meet fixing the racetrack after it had been damaged by rain. A mare named Bart B S set a new world record in the Miss Princess Handicap on the final night of the competition. In a time of 20.3 seconds, she ran the full 400 yards (or 365.8 meters).
Mr. Vessels invested his own $100k in track renovations after the first meet and successfully pushed the California Horse Racing Board for an additional 16 days of racing. Business doubled from the first meet to the rest of the season in 1952, indicating a successful year financially. The $5,000 Clabbertown G. Stake was run over 350 yards at Los Alamitos.
Due to Hollywood Park’s closing in 2013, the Los Alamitos course was widened to a mile (1.6 km) in 2014, allowing for two Thoroughbred-only meets that year. After Art Sherman moved his stable from HollyWood Park to Los Alamitos and his trainee, the horse California Chrome, won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, earning widespread acclaim and the moniker of “America’s Horse,” the track received significant media attention. The fact that the Sherman Racing Stables were housed in Los Alamitos and not the more prestigious Santa Anita Park helped the horse gain widespread attention. During the Los Alamitos winter 2014 meet, the Grade I Starlet Stakes was moved, and it was won by D. Wayne Lukas’s Take Charge Brandi. Lukas is one of the rare trainers to win at Los Alamitos with both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.
Next Point of Interest: Craig Regional Park