Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

No winter blues for trainer Monty Arrossa.

No winter blues for trainer Monty Arrossa.


Bannister Goes for His Eighth Career Win in the $244,900 Winter Derby
By Martha Claussen

These days, life is pretty sweet for Idaho-born trainer Monty Arrossa. This next week at Los Alamitos could add another layer of icing to his multiple-layer cake.

On Friday, Arrossa will saddle Bannister, the second-fastest qualifier to the Grade 1, $244,900 Los Alamitos Winter Derby. J Garvan Kelly/Nancy Yearsley bred the son of Maknmoves out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Goddess Artemis. Arrossa bought him at the 2015 Heritage Place Yearling Sale, signing the ticket for $6,200.

“It was a little risky because I didn’t have an owner in mind,” recalled Arrossa. “I just really loved the family, and when I saw the colt, just went for it.”

Arrossa hauled Bannister back to his farm in Jerome, Idaho. His longtime owner, Denny Weigt noticed the big, good looking chestnut, and immediately offered to buy him.

“Denny and his wife, Sandy have been clients for a long time,” said Arrossa. “He’s always been a pedigree guy and saw Bannister as a big, really correct colt.”

And one that could win! He broke his maiden in trials for the $69,000 Beehive Futurity at Weber Downs and won the final. He made a flawless transition from Utah to Los Alamitos, qualifying to the John Deere Juvenile Challenge in August and winning the winning the $118,000 Wild West Futurity on October 23. Racing in four tracks since his debut, Bannister has won seven of 10 starts and is just shy of $100,000 in earnings.

He enters Saturday’s Winter Derby off a solid trial win in:19.745. Los Al leading rider, Cesar DeAlba will ride Bannister, breaking from post position three.

“I love our draw,” Arrossa. “It’s a great spot, right next to Katella Deli with One Proud Eagle in the six hole. I have a lot of respect for Cesar and am always happy when I can get him.”

Then, on February 17, Arrossa will saddle Idaho-bred Zoomin For Spuds in the $150,900 Winter Championship. Jim Walker bred his mare, A Perfect Cocktail to Zoomin for Bux and shares the joy as both a breeder and owner. “Spuds” had a remarkable 2016, winning six stakes, capped by the ultra-prestigious Champion of Champions (G1). He was honored last month as the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Horse of the Year at as well as the PCQHRA champion 3-year-old gelding and the Intermountain Horse of the Year in California.

“It was my wildest dream come true,” Arrossa said of the success of Zoomin for Spuds and the honors that followed. “As much as I respect the big breeders in the sport, for Jim Walker, who owns just two broodmares, to produce a champion of this quality, is just amazing!”

Arrossa currently has 18 runners at Los Alamitos and 28 back on the farm in Jerome. Modest by nature, he reluctantly acknowledges that the success with Zoomin For Spuds has boosted his reputation in the industry.

“My clients are excited,” Arrossa said. “I guess they see that if Jim Walker’s horse can do what he did, that good things can happen in this business.”

Los Alamitos Winter Derby
By Denis Blake

The $244,900 Los Alamitos Winter Derby marks the first Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds this season, and the field features plenty of promising runners who could be major players on the derby scene all year long.

Katella Deli nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of 2016 when he finished a close third in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) at odds of nearly 30-1. He followed up that effort with a nice win in his Winter Derby trial and finished like a horse who likes the distance of 400 yards, which is still a bit of a question for some horses in this field.

One Proud Eagle is the most accomplished horse in the field with a pair of graded stakes wins last year in the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity (G3) and John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2). He had a remarkably consistent 2-year-old campaign and only missed hitting the board once, and that was when he threw his head at the start and was off slow. He had a bit of trouble in his trial for this race but still ran on nicely to comfortably qualify.

Jess Hawk is the fastest qualifier and certainly merits consideration based on that fact and that she’s won five of eight career starts. The daughter of One Sweet Jess has improved rapidly since running for a $16,000 claiming price but it still unproven against graded stakes foes.

Bannister comes from rather humble beginnings as he started his career racing at Laurel Brown Racetrack, Weber Downs and Sandy Downs, but he has four career wins at Los Alamitos and looked very strong in his trial victory.

Post time is 6:00 pm (Pacific) with the Winter Derby to run as the ninth race on the card.

Denis Blake’s Top Four Selections:
#2 Katella Deli
#6 One Proud Eagle
#8 Jess Hawk
#3 Bannister

Wrangler Racing Aces in February
Visit the Q-Racing page on Facebook or follow the Aces @AQHARacing on Twitter for timely updates on Quarter Horse racing across North America. The Wrangler Racing Aces are following the horses, jockeys, trainers and milestones at Los Alamitos, Louisiana Downs, Rillito Park, Sunland Park and Turf Paradise.

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