Jon White: Los Alamitos Futurity Picks & More | Saturday, December 11, 2021

Two-year-olds will be in the spotlight this Saturday at Los Alamitos when the Southern California track stages the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity at 1 1/16 miles.

Messier heads the field of five. I expect the highly regarded Canadian-bred Empire Maker colt to be sent away as a heavy favorite. In his three starts to date, Messier has been favored at odds of 1-2, 2-5 and 6-5.

Below are my Los Alamitos Futurity selections:

1. Messier
2. Barossa
3. Durante
4. Slow Down Andy

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trains both Messier and Barossa.

When Messier made his first career start in a five-furlong maiden race at Los Alamitos on June 27, he was backed down to 1-2 favoritism and finished second to Olympic Legend.

Olympic Legend also is entered in the Los Al Futurity. That means this Saturday, Messier will get the chance to avenge his June 27 defeat to that foe.

Messier is two for two since his debut. He won a six-furlong maiden race effortlessly by 6 1/2 lengths as a 2-5 favorite at Santa Anita on Oct. 22, then registered a 3 1/2-length victory as a 6-5 favorite in Del Mar’s Grade III Bob Hope Stakes at seven furlongs on Aug. 14.

The Los Al Futurity will be Messier’s first race beyond seven furlongs and around two turns. It appears he might relish going 1 1/16 miles and even farther.

Barossa lost his first two races before winning a one-mile maiden race by a half-length at Santa Anita on Oct. 15. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt then finished ninth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar on Nov. 5. The Baffert-trained Corniche won the BC Juvenile.

Durante finished second to Barossa on Oct. 15. Durante subsequently earned his maiden diploma by a half-length in a one-mile race at Del Mar on Nov. 15.

Slow Down Andy won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths when unveiled at Santa Anita on Oct. 9. A son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, Slow Down Andy then finished second in the Golden State Juvenile for California-breds and California-sired runners at Del Mar on Nov. 5.

O’Neill trains Durante and Slow Down Andy.

While it is anticipated that Messier will be heavily favored in this year’s Los Alamitos Futurity, it’s not as if he has a big advantage from a Beyer Speed Figure perspective. In fact, he does not even own the highest Beyer in the field.

Messier’s top Beyer Speed Figure is the 86 he received when he took the Bob Hope. Barossa recorded an 87 Beyer in his maiden win. Durante logged an 86 Beyer in his maiden victory.

As for the other two Los Al Futurity entrants, Slow Down Andy’s top Beyer is a 77, while Olympic Legend’s best fig is a 63.

Baffert has won the Los Alamitos Futurity (previously run under various names at Hollywood Park) a total of 13 times. He has swept all seven editions of the race when it’s been run at Los Alamitos.

Baffert’s seven winners of this race at Los Alamitos are listed below:

2020 Spielberg
2019 Thousand Words
2018 Improbable
2017 McKinzie
2016 Mastery
2015 Mor Spirit
2014 Dortmund

Baffert’s six winners of this race at Hollywood Park are listed below:

2011 Liaison*
2009 Lookin At Lucky*
2008 Pioneerof the Nile*
2000 Point Given
1999 Captain Steve
1997 Real Quiet

*Run on a synthetic surface


As mentioned earlier, Messier's sire is Empire Maker. Even before Empire Maker made his first start as a 2-year-old, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel believed that he was going to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby with him.

It turned out that Empire Maker was sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the 2003 Kentucky Derby after winning the Grade I Florida Derby by 9 3/4 lengths and Grade I Wood Memorial on a sloppy track by a half-length over Funny Cide.

After Empire Maker won the Wood, his training up to the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby was compromised by a bruised foot. Empire Maker finished second in the Run for the Roses, 1 3/4 lengths behind Funny Cide.

Empire Maker sat out the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes to focus on being better for the Belmont Stakes than he had been for the Kentucky Derby. Funny Cide won the Preakness by 9 3/4 lengths.

The 1 1/2-mile Belmont was contested on a sloppy track. Empire Maker won by three-quarters of a length. Ten Most Wanted ran second. Funny Cide, thwarted in his bid for a Triple Crown sweep, had to settle for third, five lengths behind Empire Maker.

Even though Empire Maker beat Funny Cide in two of the three times they met, Funny Cide was voted the 2003 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.


It looks like Americanrevolution will be a major player on the American racing stage in 2022 following his victory in last Saturday’s Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

Americanrevolution rallied from off the pace to win by a half-length as the 5-2 favorite. Following Sea finished second. Plainsman ended up third.

Independence Hall, my top pick, did not break alertly, broke stride early when he clipped heels, never was in the hunt and finished seventh in the field of eight. It was his final race. He begins stud duty in 2022.

Todd Pletcher trains both Americanrevolution and Following Sea. It was a big day at the Big A for Pletcher. The Hall of Famer also sent out Mo Donegal to win the Grade II Remsen Stakes for 2-year-olds by a nose and Nest to take the Grade II Demoiselle Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by a neck.

A 3-year-old New York-bred Constitution colt, Americanrevolution defeated his elders in the Cigar Mile. He completed one mile in 1:36.68 and recorded a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Americanrevolution had posted a 108 Beyer when he splashed his way to an 11 3/4-length triumph on a sloppy track in the Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont on Oct. 30. Americanrevolution has won five of his last six starts. His lone loss during this time came when he finished third to Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 25.

Below are the Beyer Speed Figures for Cigar Mile winners going back to 1990 (the figures prior to this year are listed in the 2021 American Racing Manual, which is now digital only and available for free on The Jockey Club’s website):

2021 Americanrevolution (104)
2020 True Timber (106)
2019 Maximum Security (111)
2018 Patternrecognition (105)
2017 Sharp Azteca (115)
2016 Connect (106)
2015 Tonalist (105)
2014 Private Zone (110)
2013 Flat Out (110)
2012 Stay Thirsty (109)
2011 To Honor and Serve (104)
2010 Jersey Town (111)
2009 Kodiak Kowboy (106)
2008 Tale of Ekati (106)*
2007 Daaher (114)
2006 Discreet Cat (116)
2005 Purge (111)
2004 Lion Tamer (111)
2003 Congaree (120)
2002 Congaree (120)
2001 Left Bank (118)
2000 El Corredor (112)
1999 Affirmed Success (109)
1998 Sir Bear (111)
1997 Devious Course (109)
1996 Gold Fever (108)
1995 Flying Chevron (112)
1994 Cigar (115)
1993 not run
1992 Ibero (114)
1991 Rubiano (110)
1990 Quiet American (124)

*Harlem Rocker finished first by a nose and recorded a 106 Beyer Speed Figure but was disqualified and placed second. Tale of Ekati, who finished second and also recorded a 106, was moved up to first via disqualification.


The winner of the 12th annual Secretariat Vox Populi Award will be announced on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Created by the late Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s late owner and breeder, the Vox Populi (“Voice of the People”) Award recognizes the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year.

There were six 2021 nominees for this award. They were, in alphabetical order, Echo Zulu, Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Knicks Go, Letruska and Life Is Good.

Each one of the six horses was, without question, a deserving nominee. However, I did not vote for any of them.

My write-in Secretariat Vox Populi vote went to Pink Lloyd. However, because he was not a nominee, you can bet that Pink Lloyd is not going to get the award. Even if the nine Secretariat Vox Populi committee members had nominated Pink Lloyd, he might not have received enough votes to win the award. But by not being nominated, Pink Lloyd has as much chance to be the 2021 Secretariat Vox Populi winner as I do of becoming an Academy Award winner.

Perhaps you are thinking Pink Lloyd was not a nominee because he is a Canadian horse. But Pink Lloyd qualifies for this award every bit as much as Australian superstar Winx, who won the Secretariat Vox Populi Award in 2018.

The great Zenyatta won the first Secretariat Vox Populi Award in 2010, followed by Rapid Redux (2011), Paynter (2012), Mucho Macho Man (2013), California Chrome (2014 and 2016), American Pharoah (2015), Ben’s Cat (2017), Winx (2018), Bricks and Mortar (2019) and Authentic (2020).

In fairness to the Vox Populi committee, Pink Lloyd likely would have had a better chance of appearing on their radar to become a nominee after he concluded his long and productive racing career in winning fashion on Nov. 27.

In any case, for whatever reason or reasons, Pink Llyod was not a nominee. And in my view, it’s too bad that he is not the 2021 Vox Populi winner. After all, Pink Lloyd’s popularity and racing excellence certainly resounded with the public.

Chenery wrote in 2010 that it was her hope that the Secretariat Vox Populi Award would reflect “the heart and soul of racing and will help build on the devotion the public has for a horse they love.”

Was Pink Lloyd such a horse in 2021? Consider what the Thoroughbred Daily News’ Bill Finley wrote of Pink Lloyd on Nov. 28:

“With the Medina Spirit positive, the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf debacle, the ongoing saga of Jorge Navarro, Jason Servis and the rest and the closing of Arlington Park, it’s been another tough year for horse racing. This game sure can get you down at times.

“But we will always have the horse.

“These beautiful, athletic, noble, graceful animals, they always find a way to make you feel good about the sport. Which is why so many people were smiling and cheering Nov. 27 at Woodbine as Pink Lloyd’s fairytale story had a fairytale ending.”

Trainer Robert Tiller had announced beforehand that Pink Lloyd would make the final start of his career in Woodbine’s Grade II Kennedy Road Stakes on Nov. 27. Sent off as the 7-2 second favorite in the field of eight, Pink Lloyd won the six-furlong Kennedy Road by a half-length even though Tiller felt the venerable 9-year-old gelding had lost a step.

“It was a tremendous way to go out,” Tiller said. “He’s Woodbine’s horse. He’s Canada’s horse.”

“Making the story even better is the classy way Tiller and owner Frank Di Giulio handled the end of his career,” Finley wrote. “With Pink Lloyd finishing out as strongly as he did, it’s not unreasonable to expect that he could once again make a lot of money on the track as a 10-year-old in 2022. (He made $289,742 this year.) But the owner and trainer understood what the right thing to do was. They let him go out healthy and still on top. Within a few days, his new home will be the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.

“He’ll be pampered at LongRun, which is just what he deserves after all he has accomplished. Pink Lloyd embodied everything that is good about this sport.”

Would Pink Lloyd be a quintessential Secretariat Vox Populi winner? I’d say so.

To chronical some of what Pink Lloyd accomplished, he:

--Made a total of 37 starts (in one race he was declared a non-starter). All 37 starts came at Woodbine on synthetic footing.

--Began and ended his racing career with a win. In his first appearance under silks, he won a six-furlong maiden race by 1 1/2 lengths on Aug. 28, 2016.

--Won 29 races.

--Won 25 stakes races, including two at the Grade II level and eight at the Grade III level.

--Was favored in 32 of his 37 career starts.

--Won 3 of 5 when not the favorite.

--Had a total of 78 recorded workouts.

--Posted a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106 when he won the 2018 Jacques Cartier Stakes. He received a 92 Beyer when victorious in his career finale this year on Nov. 27. His lowest Beyer was an 85, a figure he recorded in two of his first four career starts.

--Put together an 11-race winning streak (all stakes) from April 17, 2017, through June 3, 2018. That was his longest winning streak.

Pink Lloyd’s largest margin of victory was 6 1/4 lengths in the 2018 New Providence Stakes. His largest margin of defeat was seven lengths when he finished fifth in the Grade III Bold Venture Stakes in 2018.


Pink Lloyd, a huge fan favorite with Canadian racing fans, and Turbulator, the most popular racehorse to ever race in the United States at tracks in the Pacific Northwest, have several things in common.

Pink Lloyd is a gelding. So was Turbulator.

Pink Lloyd did not begin his racing career until he was a 4-year-old. So did Turbulator.

Pink Lloyd’s smallest margin of victory was a neck, not a head or a nose. He won by a neck three times. In Turbulator’s 48 career starts (including one unofficial race at a track in Idaho that never appeared on his official record), his smallest margin of victory also was a neck. Not only that, Turbulator, like Pink Lloyd, won by a neck three times.

Pink Lloyd was retired from racing at the end of his 9-year-old campaign. So was Turbulator.


Sad news rocked Thoroughbred racing Monday when it was learned that Medina Spirit, owned by Zedan Racing Stables and trained by Baffert, had died from an apparent heart attack after working five furlongs in 1:01.40.

It was Medina Spirit’s second recorded workout since he had finished second to Knicks Go in the Grade I BC Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 6. He previously had worked three furlongs in a crisp :35.80 at Santa Anita on Nov. 26.

Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free covered Medina Spirit’s death for Daily Racing Form.

“Working in company under regular exercise rider Juan Ochoa, Medina Spirit collapsed immediately after the finish and was pronounced dead soon thereafter,” Free reported Monday. “The 3-year-old colt may have suffered a heart attack. He is not believed to have sustained a leg injury.

“Cause of death will be determined at necropsy, according to Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Borad. ‘Right now, it’s sudden death,’ Blea said Monday. ‘It’s presumed to be a cardiovascular incident, but we don’t know. That will be determined [later].”

Baffert issued the following statement Monday: “It’s with great sadness that I am reporting Medina Spirit passed away today from a heart attack at Santa Anita following a workout. My entire barn is devastated by the news. Medina Spirit was a great champion, a member of our family who was loved by all, and we are deeply mourning his loss.

“I will always cherish the proud and personal memories of Medina Spirit and his tremendous spirit. Our most sincere condolences go out to Mr. Amr Zedan and the entire Zedan Racing Stables family. They are in our thoughts and prayers as we go through this difficult time.”

Of course, Medina Spirit is best known for having finished first in the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 1. Medina Spirit tested positive for having an overage of the legal therapeutic medication betamethasone in his system during the Kentucky Derby. That win by him remains up in the air as of this writing. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not even held a hearing yet with respect to Medina Spirit’s positive test.

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