angle-left Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Trials

Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Trials

Hotstepper, He Looks Hot, Jesstacartel make the 2019 Champion of Champions field.

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Monica Williams’ Hotstepper, Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot, and Lesley Joyner’s Jesstacartel earned provisional berths to the  Grade 1,  $600,000 Champion of Champions after posting the three fastest qualifying times in Sunday's 400-yard Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials at Los Alamitos.

Hotstepper, last year's champion 3-year-old, won the first of two trials by a nose from He Looks Hot in :19.536. Ramon Sanchez rode the 4-year-old One Famous Eagle gelding for trainer Paul jones.

"He ran his race tonight," said Jones. "The first time we ran him here, he ran a really good race (second in the independence Day Handicap). He then came back to run two dud races.

"We finally got him back to doing well and feeling good," the trainer added. "The horse definitely has some past class and great talent. I’m glad that he was able to show it tonight. We haven’t had a lot of races, and I think he’ll come back a little fitter next time and be able to hold the 440 yards.”

Vinnie Bednar rode He Looks Hot for trainer Scott Willoughby.

Jesstacartel, the runner-up in last year's Champion of Champions, won the second division in :19.686.  Carlos Huerta rode the 4-year-old gelded son of One Sweet Jess for trainer Mark Skeen.

Jesstacartel was coming off of a ninth-place finish in the October 13, 440-yard Robert Boniface Los Alamitos invitational Championship (G1).

“I thought he was more focused in the paddock (tonight) and looked better,” Joyner said. “It probably helped us a little bit because he had been having some problems in the gate. He had been throwing his head down before the race. He had not been interested in the race part of it.

"With what happened in the gate (the scratch of Eagles Policy for breaking through the gate), he got to go in and out, in and out of the gate," she added. "I think that helped him settle a little better.”

If the connections of any of these horses decline their berth, then the horse with the next fastest time in the Z. Wayne would move on to the Champion of Champions. Kelly Perez’s Mi Amor Secreto is currently the fourth fastest qualifier with a time of :19.688, while Leonardo Alcala’s As And Js is the fifth fastest with a time of :19.698. 

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