Nellie Delaney Fastest in So Cal Derby Trials

Final to be held on closing night, December 22.

December 2, 2013

J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley’s Nellie Delaney posted the fastest qualifying time to a big money race at Los Alamitos for the second time this season after winning her trial to the $160,850 Southern California Derby (G1) impressively on Sunday night.

Ridden by Raul Valenzuela for trainer Juan Aleman, Nellie Delaney won the third of four trials by 1 ¼ lengths while covering the 400 yards in the top time of :19.706. The brown filly by FDD Dynasty also posted the fastest time to the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes on February 2 before running third in the $125,000 final on February 24. The homebred filly had surgery right after the Maiden Stakes before coming back to the track with a fifth-place finish to Matabari in a trial to the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) on October 12.

“She came back to training in late August after the surgery and we knew that we were going to be tight on time getting her ready for the Super Derby trials,” Kelly said. “She had surgery a week after the Maiden Stakes final. She had won her Maiden trial and she was paid into a lot of stuff this year, but we had to back off. We decided to do the surgery and give her the time off and from there the Southern California Derby trials were our target all along. The Super Derby trials set her up nicely for the Southern California trials.”

Nellie Delaney was picking up only her second victory in 12 career starts. She was the runner-up in four races during her freshman year, which included qualifying to the Rainbow Futurity (G1).

“We campaigned her pretty hard as a 2-year-old,” Kelly added. “She had bad luck racing in the Rainbow Futurity final and then she got bumped when ran second in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. We’ll see how she does in the Southern California final. This is a great race for her to finish off the year. We were fortunate to win it once with Spike It And Fly (2006) and it would be great to win it again. If she does well maybe we’ll run her in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship. We have a horse by the name of Shanachee, who won (the $20,000 AQHA Members Plus Stakes) on Bank of America Challenge Night, that we are thinking about running in the Charger Bar.”

The other winners in the Southern California Derby trials were Robert A. Gentry, Robert K. Gentry and Robbi Force’s Scatmandu, Splenda LLC’s Jabuti Eagle SA and Arnold Gonzalez’s Fires Blazin. All three winners qualified to the Southern California Derby final to be held on the meet’s closing night on Sunday, December 22. The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Nellie Delaney (:19.706), Jabuti Eagle SA (:19.755), Tres Coronas Mas (:19.793), Scatmandu (:19.834), Fires Blazin (:19.837), Scoop Of Sunshine (:19.851), Lavish Susan (:19.876), Blistering Speed (:19.910), Bingo (:19.917) and Henoshersecret (:19.925).

Ridden by Saul Ramirez Jr. for trainer Paul Jones, Jabuti Eagle SA won the second trial for owners Splenda LLC by a neck over Vessels Stallion Farm LLC’s Tres Coronas Mas. The victory was Jabuti Eagle SA’s fourth in 13 starts. He has finished in the money in nine of those outings. He was second to All Out Arrogant in the John Deere Stakes on Bank of America Challenge Night in his previous outing.

“I’m happy for the Samaja family, which owns Jabuti Eagle SA,” said Vince Genco, who manages the horses for Splenda LLC. “We expected a lot from him as a 2-year-old, but he had little problems here and there. He’s doing great right now. He ran well tonight and the Southern California will be a nice race to be a part of to finish out the year.”

Jabuti Eagle SA is a half brother to 2011 Champion of Champions (G1) winner Good Reason SA. The homebred is out of the First Down Dash mare Queen of Appeals and he is by the stallion One Famous Eagle.

Piloted by Cruz Mendez for trainer Juan Aleman, the Scat Daddy (TB) gelding Scatmandu won the opening trial by a half-length over fellow qualifier Henoshersecret. Bred by the late Robert A. Gentry, Scatmandu came into this race after finishing second to Matabari in the $953,000 Los Alamitos Super Derby.

“We ran him here instead of in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Trials because he has a legitimate shot here,” Aleman said. “Maybe if there had been more spots open for the Champion of Champions, we would have run him in the Z. Wayne Griffin instead. We think he can do well at 440 yards (which is the distance in the Champion of Champions). He has a legit chance in the Southern California Derby. His winning time in this trial was not that hot, but he seemed to win the race easily. I’m very grateful to the Gentrys because they gave me the opportunity to train their horses. I’ve been lucky to have at least one good horse every year for them.”

Aleman has conditioned Millie Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) winner Fovee, champion aged mare Fredaville and now Scatmandu for the Gentry family.

Mendez, the meet’s leading Quarter Horse rider, also piloted Fires Blazin to victory in the fourth and final trial. The son of Walk Thru Fire held off Governor’s Cup Derby (RG2) winner Scoop Of Sunshine by a head to win his third race in 11 career starts. Trained by Jose Flores, Fires Blazin was making only his second start since running in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) on February 16. As a 2-year-old, Fires Blazin ran second to world champion One Dashing Eagle in the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1), and also qualified to the Golden State Million Futurity (G1) and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1).

“He broke sharply, but did get a little tired at the end,” Mendez said. “I think he needed this race and he’s going to stronger in the final. I like him a lot for the final.”

Flores saddled Fires Blazin in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

“I had a great time with him as a 2-year-old and early in his 3-year-old year and I’m glad to have the opportunity to train him again,” Flores said. “He qualified to all the big races last year and he’s a fun horse to have around. He gives you everything he’s got and hopefully he keeps doing well. He had surgery earlier this season, but he’s come back strong. We knew the horse from having worked with him in the past so that’s how we trained him. It worked out for the best.”

In the final, Flores will also saddle Hector Hernandez’s Blistering Speed, who finished second to fastest qualifier Nellie Delaney.

“This horse deserves it,” Flores said. “He’s had tough luck in trials before in that he’s done great just missed qualifying to the final. I’m most happy for Hector. He’s been a loyal owner. We had a tough time losing Commando Tres Seis earlier this year (in a racing accident). He was a great 3-year-old and it hurt a lot to lose him. I know that it is part of the sport, but that hurt a lot. I’m happy that he’ll have a horse in this final.”