By: Steve Andersen

CYPRESS, Calif. – Strict medication regulations contributed to a decline in the purse for the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity for Quarter Horses this year, but track officials expect growth in 2016 and 2017, according to a letter released to horsemen on Tuesday.

Track owner Ed Allred said in a statement that futurity nomination payments for the Los Alamitos Two Million for the next two years from owners outside of California have increased over this year, when the race had a purse of $1,908,175.

The race has had an advertised purse of $2 million since 2006. This was the second time the purse fell below $2 million. The purse was a record $2,236,300 in 2011.

Allred attributed the decline this year to a drop in out-of-state nominations, citing the lack of consistent medication rules across the country pertaining to the bronchodilator clenbuterol. Los Alamitos conducts hair-follicle testing for clenbuterol that can detect the use of the medication in the last six months. Some jurisdictions have a withdrawal period of approximately 21 days.

As a result, there was a significant drop in out-of-state shippers for major stakes at Los Alamitos in recent months. The 10 finalists for the Los Alamitos Two Million on Sunday had all spent the season at Los Alamitos. In Saturday’s $600,000 Champion of Champions, only three of the 10 runners raced on other circuits this year, including third-place finisher Dashin Brown Streak, the winner of the Remington Park Championship in May.

Clenbuterol is banned for use at Los Alamitos. In 2014, the Champion of Champions was canceled after Allred expressed concern about widespread abuse of the breathing medication across the nation.

In his letter released Tuesday, Allred paid tribute to horsemen “who have helped reestablish the integrity of racing.” He said the Two Million Futurity for 2015 had a projected purse of $2.3 to $2.4 million until the track enacted hair-follicle testing in late 2014.

“Out-of-state horsemen knew they couldn’t compete in major races in other jurisdictions without clenbuterol and its analogues and then come to California in the fall and pass the hair testing,” Allred said in the statement.

In 2016, Los Alamitos will host the American Quarter Horse Association’s Challenge Championship program in late October, a year-end night of stakes with qualifying races at tracks throughout North America. The AQHA announced last month that hair-follicle testing will be conducted on qualifying races for the Challenge Championship in North America, regardless of less-stringent clenbuterol rules in other jurisdictions.

In his letter, Allred pleaded with local owners and trainers to support Los Alamitos’s overnight program from January to April 15, a period when the population of Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds is at a yearly low and before 2-year-old races for Quarter Horses become part of the nightly program.

The track runs year-round on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule.