Ima Fearless Hero Wins Rich Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity

The homebred gelding gives his connections their second big win on the weekend in California’s richest horse race.

Q-Racing Journal

Ima Fearless Hero earned his third stakes victory in Sunday's Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity (G1). PHOTO: Scott Martinez.

Ima Fearless Hero capped off a dream weekend for Don and Kathy Meneely’s S-Quarter K LLC, as the homebred gelding got up in time to win Sunday’s Grade 1, 400-yard Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity (G1) at Los Alamitos Racecourse.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Jose Flores, Ima Fearless Hero stopped the timer in :19.682, and his margin of victory was a neck from Docs Best Card. The $801,434 winner’s share of the $1,908,175 purse -- the richest for any breed in California -- increased the son of Valiant Hero’s bankroll to $982,699.

The Meneelys, Flores, and Mendez won the Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity less than 24 hours after they captured Saturday’s 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1), American Quarter Horse racing’s richest and most prestigious race for older horses, with Heza Dasha Fire, a homebred and a half brother to Ima Fearless Hero.

Ima Fearless Hero was bred in Washington. The gelding has won six of eight races, and his three career stakes scores include a half-length score in the 350-yard, $375,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2).

“I’m speechless,” said Shawn Meneely, the son of Don and Kathy. “My mom is a big reason for this success. She works hard in picking the stallions, she does the research, she raises them and takes care of them. She’ll call me for advice from time to time and I tell, ‘Why are you asking me?’ She knows these horses better than any of us.

“I thought last year was unbelievable while watching Heza Dasha Fire win (the Ed Burke Million and Golden State Million), but this year has been amazing watching these two,” he added.

The path to this amazing weekend for the Meneelys began when the family decided not to sell Heza Dasha Fire at a public auction.

“We always sold the males and kept the fillies,” Kathy Meneely said. “We didn’t have a filly to sell in 2013, but we had Dash. Our trainer, Jose Flores, loved Heza Dasha Fire and Shawn enjoys racing our horses so we decided to keep him and run him last year.”

And without the success that Heza Dasha Fire enjoyed in 2014 -- he earned over $800,000 -- the Meneelys may not have kept Ima Fearless Hero.

“Dash made it possible,” she added. “We are a shoestring outfit, so when Heza Dasha Fire did so well, we did not have to sell Hero. We had him in the catalog at the Ruidoso Sale, but if someone wanted to buy him they were going to have to pay the price. No one did so we brought him home to race. Heza Dasha Fire allowed us to repurchase Hero. We used the money he earned to continue making payments and the other costs involved.”

“I remember my parents calling me to tell me that they wanted to keep Dash instead of selling him at auction,” Shawn added. “I told them that it sounded good to me. It’s proven to be a great decision. After what Heza Dasha Fire did last year and with Ima Fearless Hero being his half-brother, it was hard to not want to run him. My favorite of the two might still be Heza Dasha Fire, but only by a nose. Hero has been improving and improving and he’s been so impressive in his last (five) starts.”

Just like on Saturday night, Mendez and Flores were part of the success.

“There are no words to describe this win,” said Flores, who saddled his second Los Alamitos Two Million winner after saddling Matabari to victory in 2012. “I told my dad that when Matabari won this race we had qualified three horses to the final. We qualified three horses to this year’s futurity so maybe that was a sign. I’ve been dreaming of winning the Champion of Champions since I was a kid and I was fortunate to win it last night. To add this win is just more icing on the cake. I’ve been training since I was 18 or 19-years-old and I’ve been at Los Alamitos for 23 years. The emotions are unreal right now. I feel blessed.”

Flores credits Ima Fearless Hero’s success to another decision that the Meneelys took earlier this year.

“This horse won the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and shortly after the race the owners opted not to run him in the Golden State Million trials,” he added. “It wasn’t my choice at all. I wanted to run him, but the Meneelys decided to skip the race. As it turned out, what a great plan. It just helped him stay fresh.”

Dynasty Energy finished third, a half of a length behind Ima Fearless Hero, and was followed by We Like Corona, Jess A Politician, Time For Jess, Senor Gianni, Mi Viejo, Sale Topper, and Walk Thru Crystal.

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.