Q-Racing Blog: Good Guys Doing Great

Life is good for Ron Hartley and John Cooper.

Quarter Racing Journal

Two good guys are doing great.

You want to be like owner/breeder Ron Hartley or trainer John Cooper. They have promising 2-year-olds, a 3-year-old that may be dangerous in Grade 1 company and the older gelding Moonist, a four-time champion that has earned $864,168.

Moonist has already qualified for the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) by virtue of his win in the $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1).

Hartley and Cooper have been in the game for decades. Hartley had been a racing official in California and Cooper is the fourth all-time trainer of winners at Los Alamitos. They know the game.

There are no secrets. They just do what is best for the individual horse. They also understand that Quarter Horse racing is a sport with intrinsic ups and downs. Now they are up, way up.

 Moonist is a four-time champion.
PHOTO: Quarter Racing Journal/Andrea Caudill

Moonist, the No. 1 horse in the AQHA Racing-Horseplayernow.com National Poll, is preparing for a possible run in the Vessels Maturity (G1) trials. “He’s good,” said Hartley. “He worked – a turn-and-work – and he was timed in :18.0 (350 yards). He just takes off. He’s very focused.” He was going to run in the Kaweah Bar Handicap on Sunday night, May 8, but the race didn’t go.

The Separatist-sired Moonist is the defending champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. He was also the 2014 champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding.

This Saturday night (May 7), they have My Favorite Check in the $25,000 (Lowell) Dillingham Handicap, named after one of the finest gentlemen in Quarter Horse racing history. The Favorite Cartel-sired gelding won his maiden in December, his only start at 2, and then took the $111,000 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes in February. He stepped up in class and was second by a head at 3-1 odds in the $210,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3).

Then, on the following Sunday night (May 15), they have fastest-qualifier One Proud Eagle in the $428,400 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity (G3). It is the largest Kindergarten purse since Runaway Winner took the first-place award from a $436,172 pot in 1987.

A big thumbs up to Dr. Ed Allred and his terrific crew for naming this race for Bobby Adair. He was “The Master” and it’s still hard to deal with his death. He will always be a huge part of Los Alamitos’ history and lore. The same goes for the Kindergarten. It was first run in 1955 and won by Art Pollard’s Arizonan. The list of winners is a virtual walk through Quarter Horse racing history. Adair won the Kindergarten four times, on Band Of Angels, Osage Rocket, Bobbys Angel and Easy Treasure. You can guess who Bobbys Angel was named after.

“It is absolutely appropriate to honor riders who put their lives on the line,” said Hartley, who was clerk of scales and a steward when Adair rode.

One Proud Eagle had trouble when he made his debut in a maiden race and finished third. He then drew the outside in the first of of 11 Kindergarten trials and responded with a three-quarter-length win in :15.558 for 350 yards. Cooper didn’t know if the time would hold up to qualify. It did and was the top time.

“I knew he was a runner,” said Hartley. “When we worked him, we knew he was good. We didn’t know he was this good.

“I liked the outside, but John didn’t,” he continued. “I was happy with his race and knew he would run because of his first start.”

The Hartley-Cooper team will be sending out another 2-year-old, American Force, in the trials to the $1 million (est.) Ed Burke Futurity (G1) on June 5. In his only appearance, a 300-yard Los Alamitos maiden race, he won by three quarters of a length. He broke with the leaders and about 100 yards from the wire he pulled ahead and easily won under a firm grip from jockey Caesar DeAlba.

Life is good for Hartley and Cooper. Why? They have paid their dues in the sport and have shown patience for decades.

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