Viva Mi Corazon Leads PCQHRA Futurity Trials

Final set to be run October 5 at Los Alamitos.

September 15, 2013

Burnett Ranches Ltd. and Johnny Trotter’s Viva Mi Corazon had a dominant performance in his Los Alamitos Race Course debut after posting the fastest qualifying time to the $435,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) on Saturday night.

Starting from post two for trainer Trey Wood, the First Down Dash gelding won the second of 11 trials by three-quarters of length while covering the 350-yard distance in a sizzling time of :17.333. His winning time was 15/100th of second faster than the next top qualifier Stel Hawk. Viva Mi Corazon’s win also came in a trial that produced four of the 10 qualifiers to the October 5 finale.

Bred by Bob or Jerry Gaston, Viva Mi Corazon was sent off at odds of 9-1 in his heat, perhaps because of his sixth-place finish in a trial to the All American Futurity (G1) on August 16. The fact that he was also facing the highly regarded Kindergarten Futurity (G2) runner-up She Forgives also added to gelding’s long odds.

“That All American trial was just a case of bad luck,” Wood said. “He had no luck in his last two races. He false broke in his Rainbow Futurity (G1) trial and busted his nose and in his last out he went so far inside that he almost ran into the starter. The starter had to jump out of his way. But we always thought that he was a good horse.”

Viva Mi Corazon showed his ability when he won a trial to the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) in New Mexico back on May 24.

Wood has enjoyed success at Los Alamitos in recent seasons with the likes of champions Hez Our Secret, a multiple Grade 1 finalist at the Orange County oval, and champion Miss Racy Jess, the winner of the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) in 2011.

“It all comes down to good horses,” Wood added. “(Viva Mi Corazon) came to Los Alamitos about three weeks ago and (assistant trainer) Paul Leal does a great job with our horses here. We send horses that are very sound. That makes a difference this time of the year.”

Viva Mi Corazon’s mother is Miss Sin Tacha out of the Slew’s Royalty (TB) mare Sin Tacha (TB). Sin Tacha is the mother of 2002 co-world champion Streakin Sin Tacha, winner of the Grade 1 Texas Classic Derby and The Championship at Sunland Park.

“We have two First Down Dash babies out of Miss Sin Tacha and they’re both very nice,” Wood said. “We’re really excited about them.”

Ricky Ramirez was scheduled to ride three horses for Wood in the trials, including Viva Mi Corazon, but a flight delay prevented him from making the trip. In his place, Cody Jensen piloted Viva Mi Corazon and also filled in admirably for Ramirez aboard My Lady Jessie and Le Mishka Jess. Jensen qualified My Lady Jessie to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity and won a trial race with Le Mishka Jess.

Linda Cannon’s Stel Hawk has made five starts and he’s finished second or better in each one of those outings. The Stel Corona gelding won his Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) trial, but just missed making the final. He then defeated a solid field in the Freshman Stakes (R). Trained by Charles Treece and ridden by Cesar De Alba, Stel Hawk earned second-place in this race after he crossed the wire a half-length ahead of Dutch Masters III’s She Forgives. The latter still managed to qualify with the seventh-fastest time of :17.603.

“I thought Stel Hawk drew a perfect post and I loved the way he ran,” Treece said. “He’s done really well the entire year.”

Stel Hawk was bred by Dr. Steve Burns.

Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas’ Kokomo Beach also advanced out of this trial with the 10th-fastest clocking of :17.622.

Treece also saddled Stanley Watkins’ Jiffy James to victory in the evening’s opening trial. The gelding by Jesse James Jr, who was also ridden by De Alba, posted the third-fastest time of :17.493.

“This horse was uncontrollable,” Treece said. “We couldn’t train him. Every time we took him out he just wanted to take off and run. I talked to Stanley about it and he just said ‘Cut him. We’re in the racehorse business.’ We gelded him after the (Ed Burke Million Futurity trials on June 9) and he’s been a completely different horse. He’s changed so much. His mind has changed. I asked Cesar about him and he said ‘he’s so quiet, so cool, nothing bothers him.’ It’s been a big turnaround. I told some people before the trials that Jiffy James could be a nice surprise.”

Bred by Phil Chess, Jiffy James posted a half-length win at odds of 8-1 over Burnett Ranches LLC’s My Lady Jessie, who was another longshot at odds of 11-1. My Lady Jessie’s sire is Mr Jess Perry and her dam is My Lady First, a stakes winner and multiple Grade 1 finalist at Los Alamitos. Bred by Rancho El Alacran, My Lady Jessie finished with the sixth-fastest qualifying time of :17.583. Ed Allred’s More Than Wild also qualified out of this trial.

Trained by Connie Hall, the Stel Corona gelding finished fourth in the Governor’s Cup Futurity in his previous start. Santos Montemayor’s Fashion Foose, Spackman Racing and Lin Melton’s Smithy and Vessels Stallion Farm LLC’s Dynasty Of Habits won their respective trial heats en route to qualifying to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity. Trained by Jose De La Torre, the Foose filly Fashion Foose scored a 1 ½-length win in a tough event that included Ed Burke Million (G1) runner-up Unchangeable and Ed Burke Million and Kindergarten finalist Foose Is Loose. Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, Fashion Foose posted the fourth-fastest qualifying time of :17.505 in only her second career start. This was her first career win.

“We thought she was a good filly going into the Kindergarten, but she got squeezed at the start of her trial,” De La Torre said. “We felt that if she broke well that she would have a chance in this trial. She had a clean start this time. She had no chance last time.”

Ridden by Jay Conklin and saddled by Melton, Smithy posted his second straight win after winning his trial by a neck. He was a daylight winner when earning his maiden victory on August 16.

“It’s always a fun time coming to California,” said K.C. Spackman. “We had a good weekend of trials.”

Spackman and Melton qualified to the Breeders’ Derby on Friday with Dynasty Red.

Vessels Stallion Farm LLC will also be represented in both the Breeders’ Derby and Futurity. Vessels Stallion Farm co-owns Far Niente, the fastest qualifier to the derby, and owns the impressive derby trial winner Tres Coronas Mas. The farm campaigns Dynasty Of Habits, a filly by FDD Dynasty and out of 2005 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) winner One More Habit. Cody Jensen was aboard One More Habit on the night of her Winter Derby victory. He got the call aboard Dynasty Of Habits in Saturday’s trials. The homebred filly, who was a $20,000 maiden claiming race winner in her previous start, was saddled by Cody Joiner.

The completed order of qualifiers to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity is as follows; Viva Mi Corazon (:17.333), Stel Hawk (:17.487), Jiffy James (:17.493), Fashion Foose (:17.505), Dynasty Of Habits (:17.573), My Lady Jessie (:17.583), She Forgives (:17.603), More Than Wild (:17.611), Smithy (:17.621) and Kokomo Beach (:17.622).