Top Horses Fill Winter Championship

Los Alamitos Winter Championship is filled with top runners.

Q-Racing Journal
February 13, 2013

A field filled with the earners of more than $7 million – highlighted by three millionaire champions – makes for a sensational start down the road to the $750,000 Champion of Champions when they race in the $171,300 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) Sunday night.

The winner receives the first invitation to the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) in December and provides the horse’s connections the advantage of having the time to carefully prepare for the 440-yard classic for older horses.

Every horse in the field has competed at the Grade 1 level and all have substantial earnings, with consistency at the highest level. None of the horses have won the All American Futurity (G1) or Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) (the two richest races for juveniles); or the All American Derby (G1) or the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) (the two richest races for 3-year-olds).

The three millionaire champions in the field are $1,844,839 earner Jess You And I, $1,321,916 earner Rylees Boy and $1,271,031 earner Cold Cash 123.

Double Bar S Ranch’s Jess You And I (Feature Mr Jess-Gold Daze by Tolltac) is after his ninth Grade 1 victory and 20th career win in his 42nd start. The winner of the 2009 Winter Championship was seventh in last December’s Champion of Champions (his record fifth-straight start in the prestigious race) and then was a creditable second behind 2012 champion 3-year-old colt Hez Our Secret (First Down Dash-Secret Separation by Separatist) in their Winter Championship trial.

Jess You And I is trained by Paul Jones, who will also saddle possible favorite Rylees Boy (Heza Motor Scooter-Pipistrelle by Rocky Jones).

Lorena Velazquez Rodriguez’s Rylees Boy has taken a liking to the Southern California lifestyle in the Jones barn. After being checked in the Go Man Go Handicap (G1), the gelding raced to 440-yard wins in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) and the Champion of Champions, beating champion Flame N Flash by a head. The winner of 21 of 44 starts came back to make the Winter Championship with a third-place finish in the first of two trials.

Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas’ Last To Fire (Walk Thru Fire-Last Shall Be First by Strawfly Special) won the trial over Rylees Boy and topped the qualifiers with a :19.676 time for 400 yards. The Jose De La Torre-trained gelding was second in the 2011 Los Alamitos Two Million and came into the Winter Derby trials off a third-place finish in the Southern California Derby (G1).

Johnny Trotter’s Hez Our Secret won the other trial by three-quarters of a length, with the third-fastest time of :19.810. The Trey Wood-trained colt earned his champion 3-year-old colt title last year, with second-place finishes in the All American Derby behind Ochoa and the Los Alamitos Super Derby behind Deniro. He has earned $806,495 with six wins, three seconds and a third from 14 starts.