Neil Bricks, one of the most successful agents ever at Los Alamitos Race Course and a mainstay at the Orange County oval in Southern California for over 45 years, passed away at his home on Saturday night. Bricks was 69.
A New York native, Bricks worked at Los Alamitos Race Course as a groom, exercise rider, jockey and then as one of the track’s top trainers. His jockeys included leading riders Ramon Guce, who is also Los Alamitos’ all-time leading Thoroughbred rider, Cesar De Alba, Eddie Garcia, Ramon Sanchez, Vinnie Bednar and many others. Highly competitive in the tough business of horse racing, Bricks was a fun, caring and loving person once the entries had been drawn and the races had been run.
“He was a jokester,” said his niece, Michelle Zuelzke. “He was very caring with all of us nieces and nephews and always tried to have a joke to make us smile. He had a good heart and loved his family a lot. He was always trying to get the family together. He was fun.”
Bricks arrived at Los Alamitos in the early 1970s, making his way to the famous Quarter Horse track with trainer James Brookfield.
“Neil would clean stalls and eventually started galloping horses,” said Scott Craigmyle, the director of racing and track stable superintendent at Los Alamitos. “He galloped horses for Wayne Charlton for a long time and then galloped horses for Blane Schvaneveldt. He even rode a few races as a jockey. As an agent, he was part of our team, part of the racing team. It’s a big loss. Those agents help fill the races and we all have a common goal, to put together a good racing card. He won more Thoroughbred races as an agent than anyone in the history of Los Alamitos. Neil was part of our racing family. He was here every day, and we talked every night. He was around at Los Alamitos forever and he’ll be sorely missed.”
The jockeys meant the world to Neil Bricks.
“Neil treated me like his younger brother and my family like it was his own family,” Guce said. “He treated my kids like he was their uncle. I’ll always think of Neil in that way. He was family. He was also an excellent jockey, the best I’ve ever seen. I had injuries and missed time, but every time I came, he always put me on top again. That’s not an easy thing to do. In 2017, I was out for a couple of years and when I came back he got me the mounts that took me back on top.”
Bricks had a long working relationship with former leading rider and now trainer Cesar De Alba, working with the rider during his time riding Thoroughbreds and then many of the top Quarter Horses in the sport.
“I loved Neil,” De Alba said. “We worked together for so many years. We got leading Thoroughbred jockey and leading Quarter Horse jockey. Neil had a good heart. At work, he was all business. One minute he would make me mad and the next he would make me laugh. Even after I retired, we stayed pretty close. I’m going to miss him.”
Charles Treece, the all-time leading Thoroughbred trainer at Los Alamitos, knew Neil Bricks well before he began his career as an agent.
“I was working for Curtis Perner and I was ponying horses during the races,” Treece said. “I remember Neil as a jockey. He would always ride this horse named Joe Moon Kitty. I would pony him to the gate and we got to know each other well. That was probably around 1975.
“Once I started training and he was an agent, I talked to him at 7 a.m. every day that we took entries,” Treece added. “He treated all his riders evenly and he wanted to ride winners. The thing about Neil is that worked hard on looking to ride the best horse in the race. I didn’t always agree with him, but I understood that he wanted winners for his jockeys. I knew that he was riding who he thought would give his jockey the best chance to win the race. Away from the racetrack, he would come over the house for holidays and family parties for many years. He was always fun to be around. He loved The Beatles, baseball, and was the best checkers player I knew. He had a checkers board in the trunk of his car. He loved to play the game and would tell people how many moves they had left before he would win the game. He just liked having fun. I talked to him last night. I’m going to miss him.”
Information on services is pending.
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