angle-left Charger Bar Handicap

Charger Bar Handicap

Tequila Sangria wins the season's first open Grade 1 stakes.

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Tequila Sangria, a 4-year-old daughter of Favorite Cartel owned by Steve Burns of Menifee, California, scored a half-length victory in Sunday's Grade 1, $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap for fillies and mares at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Mike Casselman, Tequila Sangria covered 400 yards in :19.646. The gray mare earned a 96 speed index and the $50,000 winner's share of the purse from the season's first open Grade 1 stakes.

“She’s an outstanding mare that loves to run,” said Rios Ayala, the leading Quarter Horse jockey at Los Alamitos the last three years. “With horse like Tequila Sangria you have the opportunity to accomplish a lot special things.

"She was a little nervous in the starting gate, but she had one of the best starts of her career," the rider added. "She broke really well. Once she felt like she was alone on the lead, she started moving inside and then she moved outside. She felt like she was all by herself out there. She felt free out there. At the end, she finished the race strongly.”

Raced exclusively in California, Tequila Sangria has won five of nine outs and has earned $163,160. The mare's three stakes victories include last year's 400-yard Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1).

“Right now she’ll probably go back home and I’m guessing we’ll get an embryo out of her,” Casselman said. “She was about due to go home and rest anyways. We’ll then point her to other mare races. There’s a Cal-bred mare race (Ivan Ashment Handicap on June 20) that we might point her to.”

As And Js, the 2-1 favorite in the full field of 10, finished second and was followed by Thermonuclear Energy, Fenian Faith, Madam Of Fire MV, Matilda Czech, Duck Dash N Go, Tough To Figure, Love To Reason BR, and You Caught My Eye.

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