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Press ReleaseJune 13, 2014
World champion Last To Fire will make his 2014 debut and his first start since winning last year’s Champion of Champions (G1) when he headlines the first of three trials to the $163,300 Vessels Maturity (G1) on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
The horses with the 10 fastest times will advance to the Vessels final to be held on July 6. The winner of this 400-yard event will earn the third guaranteed berth of the year to the Champion of Champions on December 13. Stablemates Nellie Delaney and Bon Accord have already earned starting berths to the Champion of Champions.
Owned by Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas and trained by Sergio Fiscal, Last To Fire will be looking to defend his Vessels Maturity title. The son of Walk Thru Fire was a half-length winner in the race last year, the first of three Grade 1 races he would score during his championship campaign. He would later win the Go Man Go Handicap (G1) and then the Champion of Champions by 1 1/4 lengths. A winner of five of six starts last year and a lifetime earner of $1,087,545,
Last To Fire has been training nicely in preparation for his debut. He was sharp in a 220-yard drill on April 26 and outstanding when working 350 yards from the gate on May 20.
“He came back great after that (May 20th work),” Fiscal said. “This horse is a natural superstar. We’re hoping that he can have a big night.”
Last To Fire will start from the outside post number eight in a 400-yard trial that is full of stars. In addition to the runner bred by the Estate of Spencer Childers, the opening trial will also feature Bank of America California Challenge (G3) winner Jess Featureme Quick, A Ransom Handicap winner Jess Being Valiant, Katella Handicap winner and Kaweah Bar Handicap runner-up Once Over and Southern California Derby (G1) finalists Blistering Speed and Henoshersecret. Als Big Hit and Easyist will complete the field.
Three major derby winners are among the runners that will be in action in the other two trials. The second heat will be headed by 2013 Golden State Derby (G1) winner Far Niente, while the final trial will see the matchup of 2012 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) winner Deniro and 2013 PCQHRA Breeders Derby (G3) winner Significant Heart.
Owned by Tom Atwood and Vessels Stallion Farm LLC, Far Niente will be action for the first time since running fourth in the the PCQHRA Breeders Derby. The gray gelding FDD Dynasty had previously scored three straight wins, the highlight being his neck victory over Jess Being Valiant in the Golden State final. Saul Ramirez Jr. will ride the Texas-bred for Jose Hernandez, Jr.
The field to this trial will also feature the good-looking Louisiana-bred gelding Creole Williams and Charger Bar Handicap (G2) winner Native Tea Rose. Creole Williams was third in last year’s Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) and also faced older boys in the October 13 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (G1). Creole Williams races for owner Bella Valenzuela and trainer Jose Flores and will be making his first start of the year. Abigail Kawananakoa’s Native Tea Rose was a multiple stakes winner last year and a surprising winner of the Charger Bar. She’ll be looking to bounce back after a fifth in the Denim N Diamonds Handicap on February 22.Valiant Valor, who raced in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, Sassmaster, A Mere Dynasty, Sassmaster and I Go Out Walkin will complete the field.
Owned by Shane O’Leary and trained by Eloy Navarro, Deniro was one of the stars of 2012 with his Super Derby win and runner-up finish in that year’s Winter Derby. His only victory of 2013 came in a Vessels trial before closing out his campaign with a third in the Bank of America California regional. He’ll be ridden by Rodolfo Arvizu in this event.
A talented cast will join Deniro in this event. In addition to Kawananakoa’s Significant Heart, the field will also include Kaweah Bar Handicap winner Seperate Interest, 2012 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity finalist Stel My Corona and Southern California Derby third place finisher Tres Coronas Mas. The 9-year-old Time For A Royal Dip and the talented stakes placed runner French Fury, who was second in last year’s Turf Paradise Derby, will complete the field.
FOLLOW THE DREAM GOES FOR THREE IN A ROW IN 870-YARD FEATURE ON SATURDAY
Los Alamitos Race Course renewed its 870-yard races this season and already an interesting rivalry is brewing in the division between the now multiple distance winner Follow The Dream and the hard-nosed runner Tres Primeros.
After finishing 1-2 in their first meeting on May 23, Follow The Dream and Tres Primeros will meet again in Saturday’s featured ninth race, a $14,600 allowance at Los Alamitos. Owned by Brad McKinzie and Blane Schvaneveldt Ranch LLC, Follow The Dream was fourth in his distance debut on April 5, but has since reeled off a pair of victories. He scored a half-length win in his next start around the turn and then battled off rivals while posting a gutsy neck victory over Tres Primero. Ramon Guce, the all-time leading Thoroughbred rider at Los Alamitos, will ride the Tres Seis gelding from the outside post seven, as he goes after his third straight win.
Also sired by Tres Seis, the 2013 El Primero Del Ano Derby finalist Tres Primeros showed a lot of promise in his distance debut. The gelding will be looking to flash his speed when he starts from post number one with jockey Guillermo Suarez aboard. The field will also include five Thoroughbred headed by recent winner Octane.
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