Q-Racing: Back On Top
Reigning world champion Heza Dasha Fire leads the current AQHA Racing-Horseplayernow.com poll.
By Ty Wyant | October 12, 2016
Last week, we looked at some of the championship caliber two-year-olds and used the AQHA–Horseplayernow.com national poll weekly poll as a base. It gives the best available insight into the potential champions as we enter the final few months of the racing season.
This week, it’s the three-year-old and older horses with the same protocol. A familiar name moved to the lead of the older horse voting this week and is certainly a championship contender. It’s a tight poll with the top-three horses separated by just six votes.
|Heza Dasha Fire is the sport's reigning
world champion. PHOTO: Scott Martinez
1-Heza Dasha Fire, 4-year-old gelding (Walk Thru Fire-Dasha Freda by First Down Dash)
S-Quarter K LLC’s Heza Dasha Fire is in a familiar position as the defending world champion. His 2015 heroics have no weight in this year’s voting, however there are interesting similarities. A year ago, trainer Jose Flores sent him out to win the $819,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) in late October before he wrapped up his world championship title with his conquest in the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1). This year, he was second to Moonist in the $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) back in February. He then had knee chips removed and returned to racing in September with a two-length demolition of his rivals in the $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap under 129 pounds. Like last year, he then made an October start, this time early in the month in the $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Championship (G1) and scored by one-half length in :21.380 for the 440 yards. That moved him up from the third-ranked older sprinter to number one. It also gave him his second Grade 1 win this year, an important part of a potential champion’s resume.
2-Ec Jet One, 3-year-old colt (The Louisiana Cartel-Pretty Girl Perry by Mr Jess Perry)
Enriqie Carrion’s homebred Ec Jet One is five-for-five this year and showed his class with a win in the $2,415,084 All American Derby (G1) in his final career start. He did everything trainer Judd Kearl asked him to do this year. At Hialeah last winter, he took the $390,000 Hialeah Derby and then the $204,000 South Florida Derby. Kearl then brought him back after a six-month layoff in the All American Derby trials. He had a rough trip in his trial, but still raced to a qualifying win. He then won the 440-yard All American Derby by one-half length as the 5-2 favorite.
3-Jess Good Candy, 3-year-old colt (Good Reason Sa-Jess Send Candy by Mr Jess Perry)
Jess Good Candy — bred by the late Carl Pevehouse and racing for PV Quarter Horse Farms LLC — is also perfect this year and retired with an eight-for-eight record. In each of his four winning 2016 starts, he was the odds-on favorite and came through for his many supporters. Trainer Clint Crawford used the $70,000 Mr Master Bug Stakes for sophomore Oklahoma-breds at Remington Park as a prep for a summer Ruidoso Downs campaign. He easily won by three parts of a length. He entered to trials to the $1,068,000 Ruidoso Derby (G1) in improving form and responded with a one-and-one-quarter-length trial victory. He stepped up in the Ruidoso Derby to win by one-and-three-quarter lengths. His connections had always planned to pass on the Rainbow Derby trials and point at the All American Derby trials. That’s when ill fortune struck. He drew into an early trial on a day when the drying track kept getting faster. He won his trial by one-and-one-quarter lengths, however the changing track conditions ended up costing him a spot in the rich finals. That was the strapping colt’s final career start.
4-Valiant Rogue, 3-year-old gelding (Valiant Hero-Azoom Babe by Azoom)
Wyok Ranch LLC’s Valiant Rogue, a stablemate of Ec Jet One from the Kearl barn, has raced to three wins and a pair of seconds this year from five starts. The highlight of his campaign was his convincing victory in the $1,224,488 Rainbow Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs. After winning his Rainbow Derby trial by one-half length, he came back in the 440-yard finals to dominate by one-and-three-quarter lengths at 7-2 odds.
5-Moonin The Eagle, 4-year-old stallion (One Famous Eagle-Your First Moon by First Down Dash)
Gregorio Garza’s Moonin The Eagle is three-for-three this year and showed his promise in his first two 2016 starts at Hialeah Park. The member of the Rolando Almanza barn won the $204,000 Hialeah Maturity and came back to take the $150,000 Sam Abbey Invitational, each at 440 yards. He won each race by three quarters of a length. He then picked up the first-place check in the $215,515 Remington Park Championship (G1) on June 4, his latest start.
6-Ajs High, 4-year-old gelding (Apollitical Jess-Regally Rare by Rare Form)
Michael Teel’s Ajs High has made six 2016 starts, all in stakes, with wins in his first four outs and seconds in his latest two efforts. His most important win came in the $100,000 Sooner State Stakes (RG1) when he defeated a strong field of Oklahoma-breds by one length. Trained by Charley and Charlton Hunt, Ajs High also scored graded wins in the Eastex Stakes, Mr Jet Moore Stakes and the Bank of America Canterbury Park Challenge. He raced to close seconds in the Bank of America Prairie Meadows Challenge and Keokuk Stakes.
7-Jessies First Down, 5-year-old gelding (Fdd Dynasty-Jess A Classy Lassy by Mr Jess Perry)
Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down — another member of the Kearl stable — was first or second in five stakes this year, but it was an $18,000 Ruidoso Downs’ allowance race that drew my attention. Against a deep open field preparing for the All American Gold Cup, Jessies First Down blew them away by two lengths under a firm hold by Cody Jensen in :19.255 for the 400 yards. He was then second in the $200,000 All American Gold Cup (G1) and won the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap (G1) at Lone Star Park. Before his Ruidoso Downs’ summer campaign, he won the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) and the $32,000 Miami Dade County Stakes.
8-He Looks Hot, 4-year-old gelding (Walk Thru Fire-Look Her Over by Check Him Out)
Dr. Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot is amazing. At 2, he won the $2,078,775 Los Alamitos Two Million (G1) and then missed his entire three-year-old season. He had not one, but two colic surgeries last year. He had already paid his way with $890,000 in earnings as a juvenile. He then exceeded any possible expectations this year. He won the $152,000 Vessels Maturity (G1) and earned at start in the Champion of Champions.
9-Sass Me Blue, 4-year-old mare (Valiant Hero-Jess Sass Me by Mr Jess Perry)
Lucky Seven Ranch’s Sass Me Blue is the only mare on this top-10 list. After a close second in the $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap (G1) behind defending champion aged mare Quirky in January and then was off until July. The Mike Casselman-trained mare won a $15,000 allowance race before scoring her valuable first stakes win in the $100,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) in September. That win earned her a Champion of Champion invitation. Her connections won the 2007 Champion of Champions with Blues Girl Two in track record time.
10-Moonist, 5-year-old gelding, deceased (Separatist-Your First Moon by First Down Dash)
Ron Hartley’s Moonist has been a champion in every interpretation of the word for trainer John Cooper before his death on June 21 from colic. The two-time champion won each of his four 2016 starts, including the Los Alamitos Winter Championship. That was his 12th career stakes victory — all at Los Alamitos. He won 24 of 34 lifetime starts and earned $878,468. He has earned his spot among the sport’s legends.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqharacing.com.