angle-left Q-Racing Blog: Hot Racing in Winter

Q-Racing Blog: Hot Racing in Winter

These Grade 1 events are hot in the cold months of winter.

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By Ty Wyant

Anybody who says that Grade 1 racing cools off in the winter may want to consider modifying their position.

We just enjoyed seeing champion breeder Dr. Steve Burns’ Tequila Sangria out run champion As And Js in the first open Grade 1 of the year, the $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap on January 5. 

The $190,550 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) on February 8 came up strong and deep after four trials on January 18.

The $159,550 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) provides the 2020 stakes debut on three-time derby winner Powerful Favorite. He was second in his Winter Championship trial on January 19 and is the probable favorite for the February 9 finals. A disappointment from the three Winter Championship trials is that newly crowned world champion He Looks Hot ran a lackluster race in his trial and did not make the finals.

“The Winter Derby is one of the stronger Winter Derbies that we’ve had,” said Los Alamitos morning-line maker Ed Burgart, who recently retired from being the track’s legendary announcer.

“We have (Los Alamitos) Two Million winner and champion 2-year-old filly Cartel Jess Rockin and Circle City was second in the Golden State Million (Futurity),” Burgart said. “Cartel Jess Rockin will be the morning-line favorite.”

In her trial, Ronald Hartley’s Cartel Jess Rockin stood well in the inside starting gate stall and got off to a crisp start as the 2-1 favorite. She ran away from her trial rivals under a hand ride to win by three quarters of a length, with the second-fastest time of :19.826 for the 400 yards.

The John Cooper-trained Cartel Jess Rockin earned that trial favoritism after a stunning 20-1 upset in the $1.9 million Los Alamitos Two Million (G1). After a polished start, she raced with the leaders and showed her class when she pulled out to a three-quarter-length win.

Dr. Ed Allred’s homebred Circle City has won four of six starts with a second, beaten by Runforyoulife’s nose, in the $1,072,900 Golden State Million Futurity (G1).

Circle City controlled his trial from start to finish. He opened up a half-length lead and then raced to a three-quarter-length victory as the 1-2 favorite. The Scott Willoughby-trained gelding posted the third-fastest-qualifying time of :19.856.

Fastest-qualifier honors went to Dr. Steve Burns’ homebred You Can Run. The Mike Casselman-trained gelding started on top from the outside post position and then lugged into the middle of the track with a clear advantage. He ran straight to the finish line to win the trial by three quarters of a length in :19.786.

In the Winter Championship, Rosenthal Ranch LLC’s Powerful Favorite was second in his trial, but will be Burgart’s morning-line favorite on the strength of the class he showed during his 2019 3-year-old year campaign.

Last year, Powerful Favorite won 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) before his second-place finish in the $1,009,700 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1). He has been favored in his latest nine starts.

In his Winter Championship trial, the Chris O’Dell-trained Powerful Favorite made a strong run along the rail under mild urging and finished a half-length behind fastest-qualifier Bail Czech. Powerful Favorite was timed in :19.764 for the 400 yards.

EG High Desert Farms’ homebred Bail Czech, a 17-1 outsider, proved best in the last half of the trial to gain the top qualifying mark of :19.764 for trainer Jorge Farias.

If these races start a trend for 2020, it’s going to be a fun year.

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