The three-year-old horse, Game Winner, is expected to enter the Los Alamitos Derby along with his stablemate Mucho Gusto after entries on Wednesday. He is the heavily favored horse to win the race which will take place on Saturday.
The Los Alamitos Derby will be a Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 race. It is in the sixth running, and it will be Los Alamitos’ last day of the summer meet.
Game Winner is owned by Gary and Mary West, and he is the son of Candy Ride, who is out of the AP Indy mare Indyan Giving. Candy Ride has won four out of four of his 2018 races. Last November at Churchill Downs, he received the Eclipse Award after an impressive score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Game Winner is trained by the renowned trainer Bob Baffert, a Triple Crown winner who has also won the Los Alamitos Derby three out of the last four years. He won in 2017 with West Coast and again in 2018 with Once on Whiskey.
Baffert looks to be preparing for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga; the 1 1/4-mile race will take place on Aug. 24. If Game Winner performs well at the Los Alamitos Derby, he will climb to the top of the list for likely contenders at the Travers.
The favored horse has won four out of seven races, and his earnings are at $1,936,000. The last time he ran was in the Kentucky Derby on May 4, but he finished in fifth place after the disqualification of Maximum Security. It was an unfortunate start for Game Winner after he broke from the post on the sloppy track, and he was unable to show his full potential.
As for Baffert’s other horse, Mucho Gusto is expected to run as well. He is owned by Michael Lund Peterson, and he is the son of Mucho Macho Man and Itsagiantcauseway. The horse has two consecutive Grade 3 victories, and he won the Lazaro Barrera at seven furlongs on May 18. A month later, he went on to win the Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles, and his record now sits at 5-7 with earnings of $430,800.
Other nominees for the Los Alamitos Derby include Feeling Strong, Real Master, Vantastic, and Kingly.
A Brief History
The Los Alamitos Derby used to be called the Swaps Stakes, named for the 1955 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner. In 1977, champion J.O. Tobin beat Seattle Slew to give him his first loss as he was the undefeated Triple Crown winner.
There have been many notable horses that have raced in the Los Alamitos Derby including Precisionist, Prized, Best Pal, Thunder Gulch, Free House, Shared Belief, Accelerate, and West Coast.
The race track has been dealing with some changes during this summer season. There were alterations made to the schedule, including a reduction of two days from the meet. The racing has been following a Thursday-to-Sunday schedule with a special holiday program that took place on July 4. This season, it has seen the $100,000 Bertrando Stakes, the $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes, and now the $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby will add to the impressive list.
While Game Winner looks set to impress many with his performance at the Los Alamitos Derby on Saturday, everything is not set in stone. Baffert has not left out the possibility of skipping over the race in order to better prepare and train for the Travers Stakes (G1), which will take place later in the summer at Saratoga.