Friday, April 10, 2009

History Behind the Name: Saturday's La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita

Santa Anita's La Puente Stakes is named for an early California land grant, La Puente Rancho. The present day city of La Puente in Los Angeles County exists on the plains and hills that were inhabited by Native Americans for at least 1,000 years before the area was visited by the Portola expedition in 1769. It is said that the Portola party built a bridge made of poles to cross the arroyo at San Jose Creek. As the old Spanish term for bridge was "la puente," the area was subsequently known by that name.

Rancho La Puente belonged to the San Gabriel Mission until, after the secularization of the missions, the land was granted to William Workman and John Rowland. Workman and Rowland came to California with a wagon train of settlers along the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico, bringing along their Mexican wives and children on the 1,200-mile journey.

In 1842, the two men applied for and received a land grant from Governor Juan Alvarado, obtaining title to the nearly 49,000-acre Rancho La Puente for $1,000 in gold and a pledge to hire the local Native Americans. The rancho prospered, with wheat crops, grist mills, cattle ranching, and wine production. The area was later known for its fruit and walnut groves, and in the 1930s the city of La Puente was known for the world's largest walnut packing plant.

Today, the city of La Puente, located about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley, is a suburban community of over 41,000 people.

The La Puente Stakes, for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf, will be run for the 29th time on Saturday. Last year's winner was Tiz West, trained by Richard Mandella, marking Mandella's third La Puente win. He also won the stakes in 1997 with Wild Rush and 1994 with Majestic Style. The only other trainer with a La Puente triple is Bob Baffert --with Mountain Ridge in 2002, Purely Cozzene in 2000, and Commitisize in 1998. Baffert has a good shot at a 4th La Puente win with Wall Street Wonder.

Here's the field for this year:

The 29th Running of the La Puente Stakes
$100,000 Guaranteed - One Mile(Turf) - Three-Year-Olds
1 DAPPER GENE          116  Valdivia, Jr., J  Velasquez, Danny
2 CAPE TRUTH 116 Quinonez, A J O'Neill, Doug
3 LEEDSTHEWAY 116 Talamo, J Mullins, Jeff
4 ARDEN PARK 118 Smith, M Gilchrist, Greg
5 SMOKEY LONESOME 116 Espinoza, V Sherman, Art
6 WALL STREET WONDER 116 Rosario, J Baffert, Bob
7 DOVER STREET ART 116 Baze, M O'Neill, Doug
8 CHARLIE'S MOMENT 116 Solis, A Solis, Walther
9 ROBS HERO 116 Flores, D Mason, Lloyd
10 MR. MONKEY JONES 116 Nakatani, C Hess, Sr., Robert
11 LESSON IN DECEIT 118 Barton, J McCarthy, Sean
12 BATTLE OF HASTINGS 116 Baze, T Mullins, Jeff
--Also Eligible--
13 RENEGADE STORM 116 Talamo, J Jones, Martin

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