angle-left California Breeders' Champions Night

California Breeders' Champions Night

The state's top Quarter Horses were featured at Los Alamitos Race Course on Saturday.
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Ten official stakes celebrating the state's American Quarter Horse racing's industry were contested during California Breeders' Champions Night at Los Alamitos Race Course on Saturday.

Governor's Cup Futurity (RG2)
Fastest qualifier Pitbull and his connections were living It up on California Breeders Champions Night at Los Alamitos after the colt by Favorite Cartel scored a half-length victory over Runforyourlife in the $365,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2).

Sent off as the 9-5 favorite from post 3, Pitbull broke alongside Max My Bullets and Cattail Cove in the 350-yard dash, but when jockey Ruben Lozano asked him for more, he responded to take the lead. Owned by Cesar Nunez and trained by Valentin Zamudio, Pitbull was the leader of the pack from that point on, covering the distance in :17.610. The 2-year-old is undefeated so far in his career. 

“Three races, three wins,” said Nunez, a native of Sonora, Mexico. “He’s been outstanding. I saw the horse for the first time just three days ago. He’s magnificent. This horse was selected by a couple of my friends (at the 2018 Los Alamitos Equine Sale). They found the horse, and me being in Mexico just said that I was leaving the horse in their hands. It was a great pick of a horse by them.”

Rafael Monteverde, a longtime horse owner at Los Alamitos Race Course, was among those that helped find the Dr. Steve Burns-bred runner for Nunez. 

“Rafael has raced horses for a very long time at Los Alamitos,” Nunez said. “I have to thank him for helping to select this horse. I felt it would be a tough race because our horse didn’t have much experience. He broke on top and he remained there. It was a great result. We also just met Valentin Zamudio a few days ago. It’s all been new to me, but it’s been a great experience. We’ll keep racing here.” 

Pitbull was purchased for $40,000, and he earned $151,200 for the win.   

“He was always very easy going and intelligent,” Zamudio added. “He has a wonderful demeanor and I think all of those qualities have helped him become a nice horse. I see how much he enjoys running. Things have worked out nicely. The competition will get stronger with each race and just hope he keeps doing things well. The horses has always shown us talent. He’s never been headed by another horse up to this point. We hope it continues. The competition was very strong. It’s never easy in a race of this quality.”

With this victory, Zamudio scored the richest win of his training career. His previous biggest win came two years ago with Stelfast in the $224,100 El Primero Del Año Derby.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great help with (Pitbull),” the trainer said. “Jockey Ruben Lozano and the team that surrounds me have been great. I’m very blessed. We’ll now look at the trials to the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and then the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.”

Rosenthal Ranch LLC’s Runforyourlife earned $43,200 for running second for jockey Eduardo Nicasio and trainer Chris O’Dell. Link Newcomb’s Cattail Cove finished third and was followed by Cartel Jess Rockin, Max My Bullets, A Mere Felix, Up For Speed, Bono Is Good, Lebowski, and Come Forth.  

Governor's Cup Derby (RG3)
Rosenthal Ranch LLC’s Powerful Favorite won his third derby of the year, while improving his 2019 record to perfect six for six after posting a dominant 1 ½-length victory in the $195,000 Governor’s Cup Derby.

Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio for trainer Chris O’Dell, the 2-5 favorite Powerful Favorite broke on the lead from post number 10 and was never challenged from there on the way to covering the 400 yards in :19.565. The gelding by Favorite Cartel had previously won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the Grade 3 El Primero Del Año Derby. The track record for most derby wins is four set by Moonist in 2014. Powerful Favorite also became the eighth horse to win both the Governor’s Cup Futurity and Derby. He’s the first to sweep the two races since Hot Hitter in 2009-10.      

“We are (Los Alamitos) Super Derby bound,” said O’Dell when asked about the horse’s future. “(Connie Rosenthal) made the $30,000 late payment to make him eligible to the Super Derby trials. (The Governor’s Cup) is a nice race because he won the futurity last year and we like to support the California-bred program. The derbies are close to each other – the Golden State Derby trials are next week – so you can’t run him in both.

"I have a nice filly, Terrific First Down, who is not California bred," the trainer added. "I chose to run her in the Golden State Derby trials and put him in this race. He’s rolled off six wins now. When he broke it was over. He’s learned how to leave there. He’s so quiet in there. When (Galloping Goddess) broke through I thought it might bother us a little bit, but he’s turned into a professional. His heart must be as big as a watermelon. You can’t beat the Favorite Cartels down the track. This horse can run.” 

“He’s an amazing horse,” winning rider Eduardo Nicasio added. “He’s getting better and better with each race. He was in the gates for a long time, but he never moved. For a second I was nervous and I started thinking that maybe he wouldn’t break, but he left there beautiful. What else can I say? After the 300-yard mark it was easy. He’s a nice horse. I hope he stays sound and goes to the Los Alamitos Super Derby.”

Powerful Favorite earned $79,800 for the win to take his career earnings to $579,935. He’s now won nine of 15 career starts.

“It was my birthday two days ago,” Connie Rosenthal said. “This was a nice birthday present.”

Rosenthal paid a nice chunk of change to make Powerful Favorite eligible to the Super Derby trials on October 19, but the owner said that there was never any hesitation in her mind to make the late payment. 

“Chris said ‘I need $30,000 to put him in the Super Derby trials. Can you mail it to me today?’ So I did,” the owner said. “I put all my trust and faith in Chris. I knew about horse racing only through my husband (the late Bob Rosenthal), but I didn’t follow it or was a student of the sport like he was. This whole process has made me a student of it. My husband always trusted his trainers, from H.L. Hooper to Blane Schvaneveldt and now to Chris O’Dell. We couldn’t have asked for better trainers. Hooper taught us about the business. Blane took us through it. Chris has brought us to here. I can’t be any happier about what has happened. It been a marvelous journey.”

Steve McIntyre and Marin Pura’s Cole Man 47 earned $32,300 for finishing second to take his career earnings to $239,338. Ruth Barbour, Colten O’Dell, and Wendy O’Dell’s Tac Me Up earned $22,800 for running third. Wicked Affair, Stel A Gambler, Galloping Goddess, Hot Little Kiddy, You Caught My Eye, Jess Bein Me and No Telling completed the field. 

Spencer Childers California Breeders' Championship (RG1)                      
Ed Allred’s 7-year-old homebred superstar He Looks Hot took the lead shortly after the start and never looked back on the way to winning the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap (RG1) by a neck over Bradbury Racing and Paul Jones’ Eyes The Favorite. He Looks Hot is now a two-time winner of the Spencer Childers with his first win coming in 2017.  

He Looks Hot earned $48,000 for the win to take his career earnings to $1,295,930. This ageless superstar has now won 13 of 34 career starts with his most notable past victories being the 2014 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, the 2016 Grade 1 Vessels Maturity, and last year’s Grade 1 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. He also won the Moonist Handicap earlier this year. Ridden by Vinnie Bednar and trained by Scott Willoughby, He Looks Hot covered the 400 yards in :19.628. 

He Looks Hot is a truly remarkable horse. In addition to continuing to race at the highest level at age 7, the gelding by Walk Thru Fire and out of Look Her Over has survived three colic surgeries since 2015. 

“This horse is quite amazing,” Allred said. “I’ve never had horse like this that went through all the things he’s done. I can’t believe he keeps running. He’s got to stop sooner or later, but then again (full-brother) Once Over was still winning when he was eight. We’ll see how long He Looks Hot keeps running like this. It’s an amazing family. He Looks Hot has won the Childers twice and his brother (Once Over) also won this race. Of course, I’m happy because Spencer was my dearest friend and delighted to win this race again in his honor.”

Next for He Looks Hot could be the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap in September. 

Runner-up Eyes The Favorite was followed across the wire by Tarzanito, Da One Two Special, Chicks Fayvorite, Rite Regal, Black Fryday, and Yanque.

California Breeders' Matron Stakes (RG3)
Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Thermonuclear Energy successfully defended her title in the $40,000 Matron Stakes after breaking sharply from post number four and pulling away early in the race to score a 1 ¼-length victory over nine other top distaffers on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

With Eduardo Nicasio in the irons for trainer Chris O’Dell, Thermonuclear Energy covered the 400 yards in :19.599. A 6-year-old mare by Walk Thru Fire, the Parsons-bred mare won the Matron by ¾ lengths last year. She won the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap here in early January, but entered this race after a fifth place finish in the Denim N Diamonds Handicap.

“I didn’t think we had her quite tight enough,” O’Dell said of Thermonuclear Energy. “When you are messing with a good animal like that, and she runs well fresh, there are just so many pluses. She makes up for all my little mistakes. She did what we wanted her to do. I didn’t think we had her ready, but I guess we did. We only want to run her two or three times this year. We want to keep her nice and fresh.”

The Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap in late September is the next goal for this mare, according to O’Dell. Thermonuclear Energy earned $22,000 for the win to take her lifetime earnings to $405,757. She’s won 11 of 28 career starts. 

Ed Allred’s Tough To Figure was second across the wire and was followed by Matilda Czech, La Rusa, Zendaya, Just Walk By, Strawfinders Jessee, Time To Leave, Pick A Favorite, and Jacque On Fire.

Other California Breeders' Champions Night Winners
The winners of the six other California Breeders' Champions night stakes were EG High Desert Farms' A Mere Bail (California Breeders' Freshman Fillies Stakes),  Ed Allred's Well Good (California Breeders' 550 Stakes), Mesa Valley Farms LLC's Bolt For Gold (Jens L. List Jr. Memorial California Breeders' Stakes), Jesus Daniel Padilla's Baby Special Corona (California Breeders' Debutante Stakes), Abigail K. Kawananakoa's Chance To Fire (California Breeders' Sprint Stakes), and EG High Desert Farms' El Angel Corona (California Breeders' Freshman Stakes).

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