Heza Dasha Fire Wins $859,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby

The 3-year-old gelding earns a berth in the December 12, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1).

Q-Racing Journal

Heza Dasha Fire was hand ridden to a one-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1, 400-yard Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1). PHOTO: Scott Martinez.

Champion Heza Dasha Fire will join this year’s Champion of Champions (G1) lineup following his one-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $859,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby at Los Alamitos Racecourse.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez for owner S-Quarter K LLC and trainer Jose Flores, Heza Dasha Fire went 400 yards in :19.462 and earned a 98 speed index. The victory was the homebred Walk Thru Fire gelding’s 10th in 11 races, and it pushed his bankroll to $1,389,388.

Heza Dasha Fire will join champion Moonist, Dashin Brown Streak, Far Niente, and Quirky in the lineup for the $600,000 Champion of Champions, which will be run at Los Alamitos on December 12.

“We’ve been talking about the Champion of Champions since (Heza Dasha Fire) came back this season, but at that time there was a lot of water to get to before we got to that shore,” said Don Meneely of S-Quarter K. “Now he’s there, and he’ll be facing a field with the outstanding Moonist, and Far Niente is great. The horses in that race are the best.

“It’s a delight to be in the Champion of Champions,” he added. “I wouldn’t trade our horse for anything, but I’m sure the other owners wouldn’t either. It’s exhilarating and amazing to watch Heza Dasha Fire run. If we can keep him healthy and avoid bad luck, it will be great to watch him run in the Champion of Champions.”

In the Champion of Champions, Heza Dasha Fire will be facing older horses for the first time and will be making his first start at the 440-yard distance.

“He’s never run 440, so that’s a question mark,” Meneely said. “Based on what he showed tonight, you have to believe that 440 will suit him. But that’s why they load them in the gate.”

The fastest Super Derby qualifier, Heza Dasha Fire was coming off of a 1 3/4 length as the 1-5 favorite in his trial on October 11. He was sent to post as the 3-10 favorite and returned a $2.60 win mutuel in the final.

Mendez hand-rode Heza Dasha Fire in the final.

“He’s a great horse,” Mendez said. “He didn’t break that great, but he finished great. It was a good race for him. I was very confident (tonight), because after his win in the trials he looked like the one to beat.

“He always gives me what he’s got, and I wasn’t nervous at all for that reason,” added the rider. “I like it that the Champion of Champions is 440 yards, and I think the horse will like it too. He finished great tonight. I haven’t yet asked him for his all. I didn’t push him at all. I just urged him with my hands a little bit.”

Flores will plan Heza Dasha Fire's training schedule leading up to the Champion of Champions.

"We'll give him a couple of weeks off," said the trainer. "We'll have to work him before the Champion of Champions, but hopefully it will be a good one. It can't be an easy work; it has be be a good one. He's never gone 440 yards, but I think he'll be fine. He'll be almost 4 years old by the night of the race."

Sass Me Blue, a 50-1 longshot, ran second, one length behind Heza Dasha Fire. Forget It, Take A Look, Kickin Your Can, He Is The Risingstar, Chicanery, Tallulah Moon, and Run By You completed the order of finish.

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.