Heza Dasha Fire Wins Champion of Champions

Facing older horses for the first time, the 3-year-old gelding gets the job done Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Q-Racing Jourrnal

Don and Kathy Meneely celebrate Heza Dasha Fire's victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos. PHOTO: Scott Martinez.

A sharp break from post 10 helped Heza Dasha Fire score a decisive 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday's 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez and facing older horses for the first time, Heza Dasha Fire covered his quarter-mile trip in :21.204 and earned a 105 speed index. Jose Flores trained the homebred 3-year-old Walk Thru Fire gelding for Don and Kathy Meneely's S-Quarter K LLC.

"He warmed up pretty good," Mendez said. "When we were going into the starting gate, he felt great. We had a pretty good start out of the gate.

"I could see the other horses about 50 yards into the race, but at about 100 yards into the race we were on the lead and I thought to myself, 'We're going good'," he added. "He was going strong, but he finished even stronger."

Heza Dasha Fire was winning for the 11th time in 12 starts, with the only blemish on his record being a fourth-place finish in last year's Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity. The $300,000 winner's share of the purse from his fifth career stakes win pushed his bankroll to $1,689,388.

Heza Dasha Fire was last year's champion 2-year-old gelding. The Champion of Champions -- the sport's richest and most prestigious race for older horses -- marked his first start since October 31, when he scored a one-length win in the 400-yard, $819,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1).

Kathy Meneely indicated that Heza Dasha Fire would make his next start in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) trials in January.

"We'll see how he comes back, but we're looking at that race for sure, and then he'll have time off" she added. "We might also skip the Winter Championship trials and wait until the Vessels Maturity trials. The great thing about the Winter Championship is that it carries a berth to the Champion of Champions, so we'll see how he does. Either way, we'll give him some time off. He deserves it."

The 3-5 favorite, Heza Dasha Fire returned a $3.20 win mutuel and teamed with runner-up Moonist, the 5-2 second choice, for a $2 exacta payoff of $6.20. Dashin Brown Streak ran third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Heza Dasha Fire, to complete a $28.20 ($1) trifecta.

French Fury finished fourth and was followed by Far Niente, Quirky, Separate Interest, Well And Good, Solid Connection, and Rock You.

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