One of the best news stories to come out so far this year appeared a couple of weeks ago in the front pages of the New York Times–and it had a disturbing-as-hell Los Alamitos connection.
The story documents a federal case alleging how members of the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico laundered money into the quarter-horse industry, eventually becoming a dominant force through their fast finds. Turns out more than a few ended up in the Los Alamitos Race Course, that giant track almost no one in 21st-century Orange County bothers with–and, after this, probably fewer folks will. And it turns out some of those Zetas associates spent mucho time 'round these parts–eep.
Here's the craziest thing about it all: if anyone in quarter-horse racing paid any attention to the horses of Tremor Enterprises, the corporation feds say served as a front for the Zetas, they would've quickly figured out something was amiss in their world, as the names that the narcos gave to their caballos weren't exactly subtle. To wit:
5. El Sicario
“The Assassin” in Spanish, records show that the Zetas got into the horsey business in 2006 after they saw the horse–bought at a Los Alamitos auction–beat younger competition in Mexico. That gave them the idea to get into the business, one they quickly dominated. Note: the above horse is named El Sicario, and I'm assuming it's the same horse given the anti-Zetas comments left on the YouTube link.
4. Mr. Ease Cartel
This horse won the Ed Burke Million Futurity Trial June 10 at Los Al just a couple of weeks ago–he's the horse in the above video that wins easily. The victory qualified it to race in the June 24 $1 million stake, which didn't happen because the feds seized the poor thing as they cracked down on Tremor.
3. Big Daddy Cartel
See a pattern? This is from a race in New Mexico. Big Daddy never made it out to Los Al, alas.
2. Forty Force
The 40 refers to the nickname of Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, the alleged mastermind behind the quarter-horse scheme and a commander in the Zetas. His nickname? Z-40. The Los Al website has video of Forty Force's only victory: on April 10, 2011. Also racing that day? Significant Cartel and Haute Cartel, although feds didn't tie those horses to Tremor. The above video shows another Tremor horse, Separate Fire, who is a track-record record-setter at Los Al.
1. Number One Cartel
Um, yeah. He's identified in the video for some reason as Number One Corona and is #7.