Heza Dasha Fire Dominates $180,200 Golden State Derby

Champion scores 1 1/2-length win in Grade 2, 400-yard stakes.

Q-Racing Journal

Champion Heza Dasha Fire became Quarter Horse racing’s newest millionaire following his 1 1/2-length victory in Sunday’s $180,200 Golden State Derby (G2) at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Heza Dasha Fire went 400 yards in :19.577 and earned a 95 speed index. Jose Flores prepped the homebred gelding for owner S-Quarter K LLC.

“He just continues to amaze us,” said Don Meneely of S-Quarter K. “He looks like he is having fun on the track. In the last hundred yards, he’s just looking around and his ears are flipping. He loves to run. He’s so amazing. It was exhilarating to watch him run.”

Heza Dasha Fire earned $75,684 to boost his career bankroll to $1,041,940. The fastest qualifier, he was coming off of a victory in his Golden State Derby trial on August 9, a race which marked his first start since his fourth-place finish in the Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity (G1) in December.

“We sent him to Lazy Creek Ranch with Dr. Rick Overly and his wife, Mindy,” Meneely said. “Anytime you turn horses out, you worry because a lot of things could happen. A horse might get sick, or they don’t come back the same way, but Lazy Creek did a great job of taking care of Heza Dasha Fire. I felt like they gave him the best care in the world. Dr. Overly is his on-track vet, so he knows the horse better than anyone.”

“We went to see Heza Dasha Fire two or three times at Lazy Creek, and he would be in his pasture looking pretty good,” added Flores. “He kept his weight on during his time off, and when he came back we changed a few things in his diet. Last year, he lost some weight toward the end of the year, and I think that might have hurt him late in the year.”

Heza Dasha Fire has won eight of his nine races. The Washington-bred gelding began his career with a six-race win streak that included the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million and Golden State Million futurities.

Mendez was confident that Heza Dasha Fire’s first stakes start in more than eight months would be special.

“He’s a monster of a horse,” said the jockey. “I had a lot of faith in him because every time I worked him I could feel his strength. He just feels like a more mature horse. He warmed up great tonight and he behaved perfectly in the starting gate.

“He broke better tonight than in the trials,” Mendez added. “Towards the end of the race I just had to get his attention a little bit because he was moving his ears all over the place and watching what was going on. He’s just a terrific horse.”

Heza Dasha Fire will be pointed to the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) trials on October 11. The winner of that race will earn a berth to the Champion of Champions (G1) in December.

Jess Cuz ran second and was followed by Sass Me Blue, Chicanery, One More Card, Run By You, Energy Cartel, Walk Around Blues, Lavish Ivory, and Valiant Energy.

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.