Q-Racing Blog: Down to the Wire
The impact on aged division championships will come down to the very end.
December 29, 2016
The competition in the aged horse division is deep, strong and most interesting. Currently, there are two horses with two open Grade 1 victories, Heza Dasha Fire and Jessies First Down. Then there are eight horses with a single open Grade 1 victory.
That could change.
Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down is entered in the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on December 31. He is on a roll with his two Grade 1 wins in his latest two starts. He is 3-1 on the morning line for The Championship at Sunland Park and a win would make him the only horse in 2016 with three Grade 1 victories, all at 440 yards.
Two Grade 1 Wins
Heza Dasha Fire (Walk Thru Fire-Dasha Freda by Mr Jess Perry)
S-Quarter K LLC’s homebred Heza Dasha Fire made his championship-contending run at Los Alamitos beginning in September when he dominated the $100,000 Go Man Go Invitational (G1) by two lengths after a nearly seven-month layoff. Trainer Jose Flores brought him back in the $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Championship (G1) and he lived up to expectations with a one-half length win as the 1-9 favorite. He was then second by a head to the 3-year-old Zoomin For Spuds in the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1).
Before his layoff, Heza Dasha Fire was second to Moonist in the $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) on February 14.
Jessies First Down (FDD Dynasty-Jess A Classy Lassy by Mr Jess Perry)
Jessies First Down also made a fall run with back-to-back Grade 1 wins. After a second in the $200,000 All American Gold Cup (G1) at Ruidoso Downs, the Judd Kearl-trained Jessies First Down traveled to Lone Star Park and won the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap (G1) by 1 1/2 lengths and then went to Zia Park and won the $150,000 Zia Park Championship. When he races in The Championship at Sunland Park, the gelding will be shooting for his third-consecutive Grade 1 win at three different tracks.
One Grade 1 Win
AJs High (Apollitical Jess-Regally Rare by Rare Form)
AJs High earned his Grade 1 win when he took the $353,500 Bank of America Challenge Championship after overcoming a bump and the start and going on to win by a head. He followed that victory with a fourth-place run in the Champion of Champions. Trained by the team and Charley of Charlton Hunt, AJs High won the $100,000 Sooner Stakes (RG1) at Remington Park on May 29 and went on to win the $66,690 Bank of America Canterbury Championship Challenge. At Prairie Meadows, the consistent gelding grabbed close second-place finishes in the $45,000 Keokuk Stakes (G3) and the $74,340 Bank of America Prairie Meadows Championship Challenge (G2).
He Looks Hot (Walk Thru Fire-Look Her Over by Check Him Out)
Dr. Ed Allred’s homebred He Looks Hot scored the most important win of his career in the $148,960 Vessels Maturity (G1) when he battled to a neck win in the 400-yard fixture on the Los Alamitos stakes calendar. That win earned him a spot in the Champion of Champions. The gelding prepared for the Champion of Champions with an easy 1 1/4 length win in the $25,000 Nutrena Stakes at Los Alamitos. He was a troubled eighth in the Champion of Champions.
Moonin The Eagle (One Famous Eagle-Your First Moon by First Down Dash)
Gregorio Garza’s Moonin The Eagle got off to a sensational start in 2016 with back-to-back three-quarter-length wins in the $204,000 Hialeah Maturity and the $150,000 Sam Abbey Invitational, each at 440 yards. The colt then made his final 2016 start in the $250,515 Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1). He crossed the finish line in second place and was awarded the win through a disqualification.
Moonist (Separatist-Your First Moon by First Down Dash)
Ron Hartley’s Moonist will go down in American Quarter Horse racing history as a story of glory, honor and tragedy. The legendary gelding won 24 races (10 stakes) from 34 starts and was a champion at 3 and 4. The John Cooper-trained gelding won the 2016 Los Alamitos Winter Championship and won his Vessels Maturity trial by 2 1/4 lengths. That was his final start. He died of colic before the Vessels Maturity finals.
Quirky (Stel Corona-Dont Pass Bar by A Regal Choice)
Allred’s homebred Quirky started her 2016 campaign on January 3 and immediately grabbed her Grade 1 victory in the $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap. She battled to a head win over Sass Me Blue with Quirky going off as the even-money choice. The mare then won the $40,000 California Breeders’ Matron Stakes (RG3) in July and was a close fourth in the $100,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) in September, her final 2016 appearance.
Rare Ed (Dean Miracle-Ms Corona Jet by Corona Cartel)
The sole distance specialist among the 2016 open Grade 1 winners, Martin Marin and Susan Crotts’ Rare Ed pulled off the feat when he won the $125,000 Andreini Distance Challenge (G1). The Jim Crotts’ gelding climbed up the competitive ladder to get that Grade 1 win after running for a $6,200 claiming tag in May at Turf Paradise.
Sass Me Blue (Valiant Hero-Jess Sass Me by Valiant Hero)
Lucky Seven Ranches’ Sass Me Blue was second by only a head to Quirky in the Charger Bar for distaffers, however gained revenge in the Mildred Vessels. The Mike Casselman-trained Sass Me Blue won the Mildred Vessels by a head while Quirky finished a close fourth. Sass Me Blue closed out her 2016 campaign with a sixth-place run in the Champion of Champions.
Time For Wine (Mr Jess Perry-Fine Wines by First Down Dash)
Pete Scarmardo’s Time For Wine picked opportune times to gain her two 2016 wins. She gained her first win of the year when she overcame a rough start to win the $26,100 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge while being trained by Leon Bard. That earned her a spot in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos. There was little doubt about the finish in the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship when Time For Wine outran her female rivals to the finish line and win by 1 1/2 lengths for trainer Brian Stroud. She then joined the Jaime Gomez stable and was third against fillies and mares in the $25,000 Las Damas Handicap (G3) at Los Alamitos.
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