Q-Racing Blog: The Final Five
The Champion of Champions field is complete.
By Ty Wyant | November 17, 2016
We now have a complete and, as always, impressive field for the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos on December 10.
The final five starting spots were determined in two Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials at Los Alamitos.
The five qualifiers from the Directors Trials join defending Champion of Champions winner and world champion Heza Dasha Fire, Vessels Maturity (G1) winner He Looks Hot, Mildred Vessels Memorial (G1) winner Sass Me Blue, Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) winner AJs High and Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) winner Big Lew.
The two Griffin trial winners were Zoomin For Spuds and Rite Regal. Joining Zoomin For Spuds in the 440-yard Champion of Champions from the first trial were Militarist and Heat Warning. In addition to Rite Regal, the second trial produced qualifier Forget It.
The Champion of Champions has a glorious history of producing champions and the world champion. That could very well happen this year.
Let’s analyze The Final Five.
Jim Walker’s homebred Zoomin For Spuds is on a roll, however takes a big class jump in the Champion of Champions. The Zoomin For Bux-sired gelding does his best work at Los Alamitos with five consecutive wins at the Southern California track. Back in February he won the $15,000 Costa Mesa Handicap and returned in March to dominate the $15,000 Fullerton Handicap.
After a trip to Utah to finish third in the $38,000 Bitterroot Derby, Zoomin For Spuds returned to Los Alamitos and pulled off three wins for trainer Monty Arrossa. He took the $20,000 Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap and the $25,000 Wrangler Stakes before his one-half length win in his Griffin Trial. He covered the 400 yards in :19.695 as the 3-2 favorite.
Owned by breeder Steve Burns with trainer Mike Casselman, Militarist should thrive at 440 yards and could be dangerous when he makes his first quarter-mile start in the Champion of Champions. The Favorite Cartel-sired gelding has finished second in each of his latest four starts – all at Los Alamitos – and that streak included the $203,200 Golden State Derby (G2), just a head behind Rite Regal.
Ralph and Carolyn Fales’ homebred Heat Warning proved that he belongs in Grade 1 company two starts ago when he was fourth in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) behind AJs High. He has displayed consistency throughout his 24-race career under trainer Matt Fales. He has 21 starts at Turf Paradise with his previous three outs at Los Alamitos. He has 10 wins, four seconds and three thirds.
Watch out for Urschel 3-D Ranch LLC’s Rite Regal in the Champion of Champions. He fits. Another gelding by Favorite Cartel, Rite Regal won the Golden State Derby after a gutty fight with Militarist, won the $210,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3) and was second as the 13-10 choice in the $737,750 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1). The member of the Jose Flores stable has made 14 starts at Los Alamitos with 10 wins and a pair of second-place runs. He makes his 440-yard debut in the Champion of Champions.
Hector Villalobos’ Forget It is another proven Grade 1 competitor making his quarter-mile debut.
A year ago, Forget It won the $175,100 El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3), the $190,000 Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3) and the $134,150 Southern California Derby (G1) for trainer Jaime Gomez. He was also third in the $819,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) to Heza Dasha Fire at 5-2 odds.
This year, trained by Jose Moreno, the Foose son won the $15,000 Norwalk Handicap, was second in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship (RG1) and third in the Vessels Maturity before being beaten by just a head by Rite Regal in their Griffin Trial.
The Final Five is now the Final 10.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.