February 26, 2012
Reina Del Fuego’s chances in the $25,000 Denim N Diamonds Handicap did not look promising at the start, as the stakes-placed mare broke a length behind the quick-flying Touch Of Paso in the 350-yard race on Saturday at Los Alamitos. Everything changed in the final 100 yards, as Reina Del Fuego, whose name in Spanish means Queen of Fire, turned on the afterburners and flew past the Corona Kool Handicap winner to post a comfortable half-length victory in a time of :17.658.
Owned by Gustavo and Jose De La Torre and trained by their brother, Ugo De La Torre, Reina Del Fuego finally became a stakes winner after coming close twice before. The daughter of Walk Thru Fire was second by a nose to Grade 1 finalist First Black Wagon in the John Deere Stakes held as part of the undercard program on Bank of America Challenge Championships Night on October 29 at Los Alamitos. She then came back to finish second to Touch Of Paso in the aforementioned Corona Kool.
“She came very close to winning against the boys when she ran second to the Paul Jones’ horse (First Black Wagon) on Challenge Night,” Ugo said. “They both ran good races on that night and our filly just couldn’t get to him on that night. The finish line got us because if she would have had five more yards I think she would have won. She doesn’t mind running at longer distances. Look at tonight, she came flying at the end and won.”
The De La Torre brothers tried her against the best of the best in the trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship at the end of the January, but Reina Del Fuego never got going on the way to finishing sixth.
“She broke bad and got bumped all the way down there,” Jose De La Torre said. “She couldn’t make up for her mistakes on that night. We knew that we still had a good mare and she proved it tonight. She won back-to-back starts on September 18 and October 14, but then we came back really quick and ran her on Challenge Night in late October and even though she did well I think that began to tire her a little bit. We ran her again on December 3 and I think by the time she ran on January 29 she was a little tired. This was her second start in almost three months so I think she’s fresher.”
“She broke a little slow, but she flew late,” said winning rider Adrian Loza. “Touch Of Paso broke great and she was ahead of us by a good margin, but this mare just kept fighting and never quit.”
Reina Del Fuego’s big race of the summer will be the trials to the Vessels Maturity (G1) in mid-June. The Matron Stakes (RG3) and then the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) are a couple of other races that could be part of her schedule in 2012.
“We’ll take it easy with her and look for another stakes race before the Vessels trials,” Ugo said.
The $35,000 Miss Princess Handicap (G3) for 3-year-olds and upward is a definite possibility on Sunday, May 13. Sent off at 5-1 odds, the homebred mare earned $13,750 to take her lifetime earnings to $34,465. She also improved her record to three wins in eight starts.
Larry Konecne’s Touch Of Paso earned $5,625 for her effort. The consistent daughter of Jumpn has now finished first or second in seven of her last eight starts. Cody Jensen piloted her for trainer Jim Hanson. Stan Young’s Oh La Traffic earned $3,125 for finishing third for trainer Bret Vickery. Jumpn Apache, Warm It Up and Getit Together completed the field. The 3-2 favorite Getit Together threw her head at the start of the race and was far behind right away. The talented Separatist mare came into this race after running second in the Charger Bar Handicap (G2) on January 8.
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