Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship Preview

Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship Preview

Champion Empressum heads the field in Saturday's Grade 1, $125,000 feature at Los Alamitos Racecourse.

Empressum. PHOTO: William Zuazo

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An all-stakes Late Pick Four on Saturday night, led by the running of the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, will highlight a sensational racing weekend at Los Alamitos Racecourse.

Ten races are on tap with special guest announcer, Ed Burgart, calling the racing action on both Saturday and Sunday night in place of the vacationing Michael Wrona.   Burgart will be calling a blockbuster field in the Los Alamitos Championship, led by Jeff Jones and Steve Holt’s Empressum, the champion 3-year-old in 2021 and the winner of this year's  Grade 1 Vessels Maturity and Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap at Los Alamitos. Trained by Heath Taylor and ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo, Empressum is undefeated in his three starts at Los Alamitos, all three efforts resulting in jaw-dropping daylight victories. The comment line from his most recent victory in the Go Man Go reads “in a different league,” that statement coming after he posted a 2 1/2 length win and a final 220-yard time of :09.18, one of the fastest ever recorded at the track.

Empressum, the 4/5 favorite in this race, will start from post 2, as the 4-year-old millionaire son of Apollitical Jess tries for his 17th win in his 22nd races.

All seven starters in this 440-yard race are stakes winners, and five are Grade 1 winners at Los Alamitos. The seven entries have combined earnings of $5,815,220, and four are millionaires.

The largest career bankroll belongs to Dunn Ranch’s Apollitical Pence, the winner of the last two Champion of Champions. The 6-year-old son of Apollitical Jess has earned $1,561,905 in his 32-race career, with his most recent outing resulting in a track-record setting victory at 250 yards at Ruidoso Downs. Trained by Monty Arrossa, Apollitical Pence won the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 20.

Apollitical Pence will enter the Los Alamitos Championship with a five-race win streak, the biggest of those wins being his 3/4 length score in the Champion of Champions last year. The victory made Apollitical Pence only the third runner to win back-to-back Champion of Champions.  He has already received an invitation to race in this year’s Champion of Champions, where he’ll look to become only the second three-time winner of the most prestigious race in the sport of Quarter Horse racing. Armando Cervantes will ride Apollitical Pence from post 7.
                                          
Rosenthal Ranch’s Powerful Favorite will look to become the seventh back-to-back Los Alamitos Championships winner. The 6-year-old millionaire by Favorite Cartel outdueled Other World and Apollitical Pence in last year’s running, and he has arrived to defend his title after an impressive 3/4 length victory at 440 yards in the All American Gold Cup (G1)at Ruidoso Downs. Trained by Chris O’Dell and ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, Powerful Favorite has won 18 of 32  starts for $1,190,250 in earnings. He’ll start from post number 6.
 
Valeriano Racing Stables’ Flash Bak, the winner of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby last year and a millionaire with $1,109,550, will start from post 1. The owner of a massive late kick, the 4-year-old gelding by Moonin The Eagle has been very close in his most recent Grade 1 outings this year, running second in the Champion of Champions last year, and second in the Brad McKinzie Winter Championship and Go Man Go Handicap this year. He also finished fourth to AQHA World Champion Danjer in the Debbie Schauf Remington Park Invitational Championship this year. Oscar Peinado will ride Flash Bak for trainer Jaime Gomez.
                                        
Ed Allred’s Circle City, a four-time graded stakes winner, including the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity last year will look to improve on his solid third place finish in the Go Man Go. The 5-year-old by Favorite Cartel won his trial to the Vessels Maturity this year, but a troubled start kept him from a higher finish versus Empressum in the final. Jesus Rios Ayala will ride the Scott Willoughby trainee from post 5.
       
Vic3tory LLC’s Other World and Fernando Flores’ Mister Tornado are both stakes winners at 400 yards. The Allred-bred Other World finished second to Powerful Favorite in this race last year as a 3-year-old at 17-1 odds and will be looking to regain that outstanding form here.  While he’s not visited the winner’s circle since scoring back-to-back stakes wins in the summer of his sophomore campaign in 2021, the 4-year-old gelding by Foose enters after running third thanks to a strong finish in the Whosleavingwho Stakes on September 17. Juan Pablo Leon will ride from post 4 for Valentin Zamudio.
           
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