Challenge: California Sun

Challenge: California Sun

California horses Tres A Jess and Mister Tornado are looking to shine in the Bank of America Challenge Championships.

Tres A Jess 2020 John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge

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By Andrea Caudill


Two of the representatives from the California contingent this year will be saddled by trainer Roman Figueroa in Saturday’s Bank of America Challenge Championships. 

Figueroa was a top jockey, an NFR-level roper, and has been a key player in the legendary Blane Schvaneveldt stable alongside his wife, Brenda, Blane’s daughter. 

Figueroa on Saturday will saddle Mister Tornado in the Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) and Tres A Jess in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2). 

Fernando Flores’ Mister Tornado is a gelded son of Sports Cartel and out of the Senior Solo mare Spanish Sola Mark, bred by Salvador Flores. The horse has won or placed in 10 of 17 career starts, including four of seven this year, and earned $65,686 in his career. 

This will be his first start away from Los Alamitos, where he most recently was third in the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap. He won the Adequan Los Alamitos Derby Challenge and also was fifth in the El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3), won by Tell Cartel. 

“He’s a super horse, really on the muscle,” Figueroa says. “He’s just run everything great, and he seems to like the climate out here and really done good.”

Tres A Jess is a chestnut colt who races for his owner Marco Antonio Hernandez of Buckeye, Arizona, and Figueroa got him in for training earlier this summer. 

The son of One Sweet Jess is out of the Tres Seis mare Pure Ruby. 

The only program the colt was paid into was the Challenge, and they had to hustle to get the horse ready in time for the John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge – they were successful, winning that stakes, and he topped it with an allowance prep before shipping to Albuquerque with a record of two wins, one second and one third in four starts and earnings of $32,377.

“He’s just been amazingly sound, amazingly good, he’s just gotten better and better,” Figueroa says. “He’s been really an amazing horse.” 

The fall days in Albuquerque have been mild and sunny and very reminiscent of Southern California weather, and the connections of Mister Tornado and Tres A Jess hope the horses will repeat their big efforts here. 

“They’re both in with horses as good as you’re going to get, really tough competition,” Figueroa says. “But I really look forward to both of them running good races. We’re glad to be here.”

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