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Otoole Hero Fastest in Super Derby Trials

Trey Wood trainee scores big upset at Los Alamitos.

October 13, 2013

Burnett Ranches LLC and Johnny Trotter’s Otoole Hero posted the fastest qualifying time while scoring a surprising victory in the fourth trial to the Grade 1, $953,200 Los Alamitos Super Derby on Saturday night. Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) winner Remembering Spence, Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) winner Matabari and multiple Grade 1 finalists also scored trial victories on the night and qualified to the season’s richest derby to be held on Saturday, November 2.

Ridden by Ricky Ramirez for trainer Trey Wood, Otoole Hero won his trial at odds of 28-1 while posting the fastest time of :19.567 for 400 yards. Bred by MLA International Company, the gelding by Valiant Hero was scoring his second win in eight career starts. He had previously posted a second place finish in his trial to the All American Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs on August 17.

“Trey said that he ran extremely well in his All American Derby trial,” said assistant trainer Paul Leal. “He ran into a 10 mile per hour head wind, but he was among the top 10 qualifiers until the final two trials when he was knocked out. He ran lights out in that trial race.”

Otoole Hero was lights out in this trial event as well, as he led most of the way en route to a half-length victory over All American Derby (G1) runner-up Bon Accord and Ruidoso Derby (G1) finalist Kat Quick, both of which also qualified to the final. PJ Chick In Black, the champion 2-year-old filly last year, did not have much racing room and finished seventh in this trial.

“I was hoping for a :19.72 to :19.74 clocking because that would give him a chance to make this final,” Leal added. “He just got away from there in good form and ran a great race. I thought this was the toughest trial of the night. This horse has matured so much since he was here at Los Alamitos late last year and early this year. He’s a big horse and has really come into his own. He’s doing great right now and we’re just hoping for some good luck in the final.”

The 10 horses that qualified to the Super Derby are as follows: Otoole Hero (:19.567), Remembering Spence (:19.614), Matabari (:19.634), Scoop Of Sunshine (:19.638), Scatmandu (:19.652), Lavish Susan (:19.669), Bon Accord (:19.680), Henoshersecret (:19.687), Tres Queens (:19.714) and Kat Quick (:19.735).

Rosa Barboza’s Remembering Spence posted his fourth straight victory after an easy 1 ¼-length victory in the third trial of the night. Bred by Ed Allred, the TR Dasher gelding won the Los Alamitos Winter Derby earlier this year and also scored in the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap in his most recent start. Juan Aleman saddled Remembering Spence, who was ridden by Francisco Rubio.

“He didn’t get away that great, but once he gets rolling he is like a freight train,” Aleman said. “He has these big long strides and he makes it look easy.”

“I just let this horse run,” Rubio added. “He runs by himself. He was moving his head around a little bit in the gate because he wanted to look around, but he’s usually very well behaved.”

Balgo Racing Team Inc. and Marlyn Gonzalez’s Matabari posted an impressive victory in her trial while making her first outing here since winning Los Alamitos’ richest race of 2012. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Guillermo Morales, Matabari rallied from a 1 ¼ length deficit at the start to edge Governor’s Cup Derby (RG2) winner Scoop Of Sunshine by a nose in the first of four 400-yard trials to the Super Derby. After getting bumped at the start, the homebred filly by Mr Jess Perry began to fly and she made up three-quarter lengths in the final 220 yards. Matabari covered the distance in :19.634 while picking up her fifth win eight career starts. She won last year’s $2,108,000 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, which annually features the meet’s biggest purse of the season. She came into this race after winning one of her two summer starts at Ruidoso Downs.

“Scoop Of Sunshine is a very tough filly and it was a tough duel the entire way,” Sanchez said. “I was pleased with Matabari’s effort.”

“She ran well in Ruidoso,” Morales said. “In her All American trial she was really behind, but she made up a lot of ground and finished third. She came back from Paul Jones’ barn very healthy and happy. She was doing everything right coming into these trials and we expected her to run a big race.”

“It was a good race and we caught (Scoop Of Sunshine) at the end,” said owner Jose Maria Gonzalez, who also bred the gray filly. “It’s a dream to have a homebred like Matabari. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that everything continues well with her.”

Matabari has earned $868,426 in her career.

A total of four sophomores qualified out of this trial. In addition to Matabari and Scoop Of Sunshine, Jose and Gustavo De La Torre’s Lavish Susan and Abigail Kawananakoa’s Henoshersecret were also in this trial.

Owned by the partnership of Robbi Force and Robert K. and Robert A. Gentry, Scatmandu posted a half-length victory in the second trial. A finalist in the Rainbow Derby and in last year’s Rainbow Futurity, Scatmandu dueled with Kawananakoa’s Tres Queens throughout this race before gaining some separation at the end.

“(Scatmandu) false broke a little bit when the number seven horse (broke through the gate),” Aleman said. “He didn’t get away that great, but once he got rolling his Thoroughbred blood kicked in.”

Bred by the late Robert Gentry, Scatmandu is by the Thoroughbred sire Scat Daddy.

J. Garvan Kelly, Nancy Yearsley and Vinewood Farms’ Bon Accord will be another of the big names to watch in the Super Derby following his second-place finish in his trial tonight and in the All American Derby in his previous race. The Kelly and Yearsley-bred runner will go into the final with over $530,000 in earnings.

“We’re happy to be in the final,” Kelly said. “There were not a lot of trials tonight, but there were a lot of outstanding horses in them.”

“He may have needed this race,” Yearsley added. “This sets him up for the final.”

“The important thing is that we’re in the final,” said George Lucas of Vinewood Farms.


Leading Quarter Horse jockey Cruz Mendez was involved in a spill aboard 2012 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) finalist Commando Tres Seis in the third trial to the Super Derby. Mendez hit the ground, but he was conscious and alert and got up under his own power. He was transported to Los Alamitos Medical Center as a precaution. Commando Tres Seis was euthanized. Owned and bred by Hector A. Hernandez, the Tres Seis gelding won three of four starts with his only loss being a 10th place finish in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last year. This was his first start of the season.