Rylees Boy Morning Line Favorite in Challenge Championship

Rylees Boy Heads Deep Field in the Bank of America Racing Challenge Championship.

By Martha Claussen
October 26, 2011

Rylees Boy

Rylees Boy

A contentious field of older horses will show their class and heart in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) on Saturday evening at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California.

Post positions for the Challenge Championships were drawn during a brunch on Wednesday, October 26. The Challenge Championships are the season-ending championship event of AQHA’s purse and bonus awards program.

Rylees Boy has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the Bank of America Challenge Championship by Los Alamitos announcer and odds maker, Ed Burgart. Owned and trained by Gerardo Ochoa-Pena, the 6-year-old has won his last three efforts, most notably the $250,000 Remington Park Championship (G1), in which he defeated a stellar field including Stolis Winner, Louisiana Senator, Freaky, Noconi and Favorite Cartel. The Arizona-bred ran second in the 2010 Bank of America Challenge Championships at Fair Grounds and qualified for this year’s renewal with a victory in the Bank of America Sunland Park Championship Challenge (G2) on April 10. This will be his first start since May 28, who earned the distinction of AQHA Supreme Race Horse following his Remington Park Championship win.

Stolis Winner, the 2008 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse, and all-time money earner in American Quarter Horse history, is in the barn of trainer Juan Aleman preparing for the Bank of America Challenge. The Jerry Windham homebred broke the previous mark of $2,126,309 set by Refrigerator with his third-place finish in the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Fair Grounds last November. The 5-year-old son of Stoli out of the Runaway Winner mare Veva Jean, has won 13 of his 28 career starts and has increased his lifetime bankroll to $2,231,661.

“They gave him some time off this summer; he went to Mr. Windham’s farm (in College Station, Texas), so I’ve only had him here for 60 days,” said Aleman.”I’ve had a lot of help from Heath Taylor, who knows the horse so well. We’re hoping now that the horse had his first out here (on October 9), that he will get a hold of the track and hopefully run his race.”

Trainer Paul Jones will saddle four horses in the 440-yard feature. Favorite Cartel earned his berth into this year’s Challenge Championship by winning the $72,630 Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship Challenge (G2) on August 20. Owned by R.D. Hubbard, Jim Helzer, Terry Thompson and Paul Jones, Favorite Cartel (Favorite Trick (TB)-Shenoshercorona by Corona Cartel) has won three of his six starts in 2011, building on am impressive juvenile campaign when he ran third in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) and fourth in the All American Futurity (G1).

Last year’s champion aged mare and older horse Spit Curl Diva is also in the Jones barn preparing for Saturday night’s marquee race. Owned by the Lepic-Morgan Partnership of Iowa City, Iowa, the 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred daughter of Spit Curl Jess set a new track record in her qualifying race at Prairie Meadows on September 3. Following the race, owner Tom Lepic shipped the multiple-stakes winning mare out to Los Alamitos.

Rose Mary Chandler sent Acorn to Jones several weeks ago. The 4-year-old son of Oak Tree Special ran second in the Bank of America Texas Challenge (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park. The winner, The Louisiana Cartel, has been retired to stud according to his owner, Jorge Haddad. Trainer Janet VanBebber has overseen the previous 20 starts of the Texas-bred gelding. His 12 career victories included a win in the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G1) last November at Fair Grounds.

“All of them are doing really well,” said Jones. “I like the draw for Favorite Cartel; he has won a lot of his races from the 3 and 4 hole. The outside might be a good spot for Acorn. Spit Curl Diva is feeling so good she can’t stand herself.”

Tom Lepic, who visited the Jones barn this morning to see Spit Curl Diva, offered a wagering suggestion for the betting public.

“Bet the Paul Jones superfecta,” said Lepic.

The Challenge Championship, a 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up, will award the winner a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) on December 10 at Los Alamitos. The starters, in post position order with their jockeys and morning-line odds, are:

Shining First Dash, Cruz Mendes, 30-1
Vodka With Ice, Francisco Rubio, 30-1
Favorite Cartel, Ramon Sanchez, 4-1
Devon Dat Cash, J. Luis Torres, 20-1
Spit Curl Diva, David Brown, 7-2
Jess A Runner, G. R. Carter, 8-1
Rylees Boy, Joe Ruiz, 8-5
What I Want, Guillermo Suarez, 30-1
Stolis Winner, Cody Jensen, 6-1
Kool Kade, Rodrigo Aceves, 30-1
Acorn, Alfonso Lujan, 8-1

This is the ninth time that Los Alamitos Race Course has hosted the Bank of America Racing Challenge Championships.

The Bank of America Challenge Championship is the 11th race on the 12-race card. Post time for the race is approximately 10:55 p.m. Pacific time. The event will be televised on TVG, or watch it live, free of charge, on Q-Racing Video at www.qracingvideo.com. Check www.aqharacing.com for the latest news and information. BY MARTHA CLAUSSEN