angle-left Los Alamitos Winter Derby

Los Alamitos Winter Derby

Tell Cartel pulls off an upset in Saturday's $190,500 feature at Los Alamitos Race Course.

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Martha "Mimi" Wells celebrated her first Grade 1 stakes victory after her homebred colt Tell Cartel pulled away late to win Saturday's $190,500 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) at Los Alamitos Race Course. 

Sent to post at odds of 17-1, Tell Cartel defeated You Can Run by three-quarters of a length while covering 400 yards in ;19.610. Ruben Lozano rode the homebred son of Favorite Cartel for trainer Matt Fales.

“He didn’t break as well as he could have,” Lozano said of Tell Cartel. “Once he got a hold of the track he really starting picking up speed. He was going so nicely and just getting stronger. He’s so strong, so easy to get along with, and just a noble and gentle horse.” 

Wells has campaigned Quarter Horses since the late 1990s, and before that she saddled 90 starters over a three-year span following the passing of her husband, trainer Dwayne Wells.

“I told Ruben to ride (Tell Cartel) like he rides Yanque,” said Wells, referring to another one of her stakes winning horses that Lozano rides. “Ruben just gave me a little wink and a nod and went ‘OK.’ When he came back to the winner’s circle he said, ‘Just like Yanque, right?’ ”

Yanque finished second to Jess My Kiss in the 2018 running of the Winter Derby. His full-brother, Red Hawk Cartel, ran second to Powerful Favorite in last year’s Winter Derby. Bred by Wells, Yanque and Red Hawk Cartel’s are both out of a daughter of Chicks Tells. The 2010 PCQHRA Mare of the Year, Chicks Tell has also produced the multiple stakes winner Forrest Fire, stakes winner My Favorite Cartel, and the stakes placed winner Chicks Fayvorite. Now she’s the dam of a Grade 1 winner in Tell Cartel.

“This was just fantastic,” Wells said. “I have Tell Cartel and Red Hawk Cartel, two Favorite Cartel colts. I’m truly blessed.”

 Wells has enjoyed several major derby wins in her career. In 2000, she won the California Sires Cup Derby (RG2) with champion Chicks First Policy. Twelve years later, she won the Grade 2 El Primero Del Año Derby with New Look. Wells has also won Grade 3 stakes races with No Pet Peeves, Heza Sand Trap and Getit Together. 

As for Fales, he was earning his first Grade 1 derby win. The trainer’s first Grade 1 stakes win came in 2018 at Los Alamitos with Mickey Ward in the 870-yard Cox Ranch Distance Challenge.

“I’m a little shocked right now,” Fales said. “Reality hasn’t set in, but I’m on top of the world right now. I wish I could describe the feeling. I believe tomorrow morning when I go to breakfast, it’ll be the best tasting eggs I’ve ever had. 

“It’s been my dream to compete in these races, and Martha Wells has given me the opportunity to compete in this race with this caliber of horse,” Fales added. “She’s 99-percent the backbone of our group.

"(Tell Cartel) has always had a lot of talent. He’s had a little bit of bad luck. Tonight he was able to put it all together for Ruben. This is Ruben’s first ride on Tell Cartel, but ever since he knew he was going to ride him in the final he’s been coming by the barn to get him ready. He’s put in the work.

Tell Cartel has won four of 11 starts while racing exclusively in California, and the $80,031 winner's share of the purse from his first stakes victory pushed the chestnut colt's earnings to $160,016.

Mental Error finished third and was followed by Sass Go Blue, John Cartel Cash, Circle City, Nomadic, Zoom On Jess, Just Be Real and Cartel Jess Rockin. 

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