angle-left Q-Racing Blog: In the Doorway

Q-Racing Blog: In the Doorway

The Champion of Champions means history, and it’s about time for one horse to step through the door.

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By Ty Wyant

Since its 1972 inception, the Champion of Champions has been the most important race for older American Quarter Horses. It makes history every year and if the connections of an older horse wants to that horse to be named world champion, it certainly helps to win the Champion of Champions.

The 440-yard 2019 renewal of the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) is December 14 at Los Alamitos.

It is destined to be historic. Scott Bryant’s champion Flash And Roll, who is 6-for-6 at Los Alamitos, is trained by Justin Joiner and ridden by Cody Jensen. If Flash And Roll continues her unbeaten streak at Los Alamitos with a Champion of Champions win, then Joiner would become the third trainer to win consecutive Champion of Champions with different horses and Jensen would become the third jockey to win back-to-back Champion of Champions on different horses. They combined last year to win with Bodacious Eagle. 

Trainers Blane Schvaneveldt and Paul Jones have successive wins with different horses with Jones pulling off the feat twice. Jockeys Jerry Nicodemus and Eduardo Nicasio each rode consecutive winners on different horses.

Also, this will be Jensen’s final Champion of Champions, as he is planning to retire at year’s end. (There will be a deserved complete blog on Jensen in coming weeks.)

“It’s hard to win two in a row in any stakes, even an overnight stakes,” Joiner said.

Flash And Roll, the reigning champion 2-year-old, will be taking on older stakes-hardened geldings, but the filly who weighs less than 1,000 pounds is ready for the challenge.

The daughter of First Moonflash has earned $1,599,007 at Los Alamitos from career earnings of $1,689,718. She has Grade 1 wins in the $942,750 Golden State Million Futurity, the $1,836,425 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and the $1,009,700 Los Alamitos Super Derby, her most recent start on November 10.

“She came back really well,” Jensen said of her Super Derby recovery. “Usually, she’s an energetic galloper. She was ultra-aggressive the first time I galloped her after the Super Derby. That was about two weeks after the race.”

Joiner is also pleased with the filly’s condition and attitude.

“She’s doing really well,” he said. “We’ve ponied her a couple of times and galloped her a couple of times. She goes to the track two or three times a week.

“She seems to be ramped up and ready to run. She’s gained about 25 pounds since the Super Derby.”

The diminutive filly showed her mettle when she faced Powerful Favorite in the Super Derby. The gelding has wins this year in the $198,700 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1), the $211,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3) and the $195,000 Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3).

The horseplayers knew the Super Derby was a two-horse race. Powerful Favorite was the even-money favorite while Flash And Roll was the 3-2 second choice. The horseplayers were correct in their exacta play. They were a nose apart at the first two Super Derby calls and then Flash And Roll dug in for the neck verdict. It’s on the short list for Race of the Year.

“Powerful Favorite is as tough as anything in the Super Derby,” Jensen said. “That race really showed how game she is. I learned how tough she is. I really became a fan after the Super Derby. Powerful Favorite is a super horse and showed it all year.”

She will be facing tough horses like BH Lisas Boy, champion and past winner Zoomin For Spuds, He Looks Hot,  Jesstacartel, champion Hotstepper, Tequila Sangria, Mi Amor Secreto, As And Js and Katies Easy Moves.   

Now it’s time for the perfect filly at Los Alamitos to take on veteran Grade 1 campaigners in the sport’s classic race for older horses. History is in the offing. It always is in the Champion of Champions.

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