Docs Best Card Tops Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity Qualifiers
The Corona Cartel colt won the sixth of 14 400-yard trials at Los Alamitos on Sunday.
November 22, 2015
Jaime Gomez’s Docs Best Card does not like to miss any dances. For the fifth time in as many attempts, the colt by Corona Cartel qualified to a major futurity at Los Alamitos, this time posting the fastest qualifying time to California’s richest race of 2015, the Grade 1 $1,957,175 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
Ridden by Oscar Peinado, Docs Best Card won the sixth of 11 trials on Sunday night after posting a convincing 2 ¼ length victory in an evening’s best 400-yard time of :19.848. Docs Best Card has now posted the fastest times to the three richest races held at Los Alamitos in 2015. He also had the fastest time to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity and the fastest time to the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity.
S-Quarter K LLC’s Ima Fearless Hero, the winner of the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, was equally impressive in his trial win, as the Valiant Hero gelding won the 11th trial in the second fastest time of :19.855. Howard Nichols’ We Like Corona, the second fastest qualifier to the Ed Burke Million Futurity, finished with the third fastest time of :19.890. We Like Corona is also by Corona Cartel to give the legendary stallion the first and third fastest qualifiers to the Los Alamitos Two Million final.
Headed by Docs Best Card, Ima Fearless Hero, and We Like Corona, the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity will be held on Sunday, December 13. The winner will earn $801,433 or $2,003.58 per yard raced. The talented Docs Best Card ran his best race of the year on Sunday, as he flew from post number one on the way to his fourth win in 10 starts this season. He has also finished second in five of his other six outings.
The Dutch Masters III-bred runner will be looking for his first futurity win of the year after posting three runner-up futurity finishes. His second place efforts have come in the Kindergarten, Ed Burke Million, and Golden State Million futurities. His only finish out of the top three was a ninth place finish in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Docs Best Card has clearly put that race behind him, as he’s posted three outstanding races in a row since that race. He won his trial to the Golden State Million, ran second in the Golden State Million, and now he posted this huge effort in the Two Million trials.
“He’s brave, he’s gutsy, and he’s got a lot of heart,” Gomez said. “The best thing is that he’s sound. He’s danced every dance and he’s only had one bad race. I want to forget about that race because that was not a typical race from Docs Best Card. That’s the only time he’s run poorly. That’s in the past now. When you have a sound and talented horse, they’ll run for you. He’s a very healthy horse and that’s the most important thing. He’s never been injured. I would love to see him win one of these futurities. We’ll point him to the big derbies next year, headed by the Los Alamitos Super Derby, and he’s a great stallion prospect. I’m excited about his future.”
Docs Best Card’s immediate future will be an appearance in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, where he’ll look to avenge his PCQHRA Breeders Futurity loss to Ima Fearless Hero while also facing Howard Nichol’s We Like Corona, the fourth place finisher in the Ed Burke Million, and Ed Burke Million Futurity and Kindergarten Futurity winner Walk Thru Crystal, the owner of the seventh fastest qualifying time.
The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Docs Best Card (:19.848), Ima Fearless Hero (:19.855), We Like Corona (:19.890), Senor Gianni (:19.918), Time For Jess (:19.942), Mi Viejo (:19.948), Walk Thru Crystal (:19.949), Jess A Pollitician (:20.025), Sale Topper (:20.031), and Dynasty Energy (:20.036).
With a strong lineup of 2-year-olds under his care in the trials, trainer Jose Flores figured to have a solid night during the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials. Flores did not disappoint, as the veteran trainer won three out of the first four trials on the night and a total of four trial wins on the night. Flores saddled the second fastest qualifier Ima Fearless Hero, third fastest qualifier We Like Corona, and Janet McKinnerney’s eighth fastest qualifier Jess A Pollitician.
Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Ima Fearless Hero scored his fourth win in a row and his fifth victory in seven career starts. Bred by owners S-Quarter K LLC, Ima Fearless Hero was making his first start since winning the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity by a half-length. The Washington-bred gelding ran lights out on Sunday, cruising to a 2 ¼ length trial win.
“I was nervous, no doubt about it,” said S-Quarter K’s Kathy Meneely. “The lineup of trial horses was outstanding and all I was hoping was for Ima Fearless Hero to run in the nineteenths.”
Ima Fearless Hero is a half-brother to Heza Dasha Fire, which last year was the favorite to win the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity final. Heza Dasha Fire finished fourth in the final. Ima Fearless Hero will now look to better his older brother’s finish in the Los Alamitos Two Million. As a juvenile, Heza Dasha Fire was tremendous from day one, while Ima Fearless Hero has steadily improved with each one of his starts.
“All babies are different, just like all kids are different,” Meneely said. “That’s what we love about Jose. He treats each of his horses individually. Jose doesn’t have a cookie cutter approach. He looks at every horse and tries to supply them with what they need. We love his team. Hugo Cruz has been the groom for both Heza Dasha Fire and Ima Fearless Hero and he has done a great job. Our horses love Hugo.”
“It’s a big team effort,” Flores said. “I listen to everyone’s suggestions and opinions and then we do what’s best for the horse. It was tough to skip the Golden State Million trials with Ima Fearless Hero after he won the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Now I am happy that we did because we’ll have a fresh, strong horse for the final. Ima Fearless Hero ran a great race tonight and he showed that he’s the real deal.”
Making his first start since that fourth place in the $1,040,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity, Howard Nichols’ We Like Corona won the second trial in a time of :19.89. It was his third win in four career starts for the Corona Cartel gelding.
“He stumbled a little bit at the start, but he ran great from there,” Flores said. “He had surgery after the Ed Burke Million to clean up a little chip he had in his ankle. He needed some time off after the surgery and the Nichols never put any pressure to rush the horse. The horse was able to take his time coming back and that was a huge. I was concerned not having his start before the trials, but he had a great workouts (350-yard gate work in :17.80 on October 31). He posted a pretty good time in his workout and did not disappoint in the race.”
We Like Corona broke his maiden in his first ever start back on April 26 and then won his trial to the Ed Burke Million by a half-length over fellow Ed Burke finalist Bookish. Cruz Mendez was aboard the gelding for Flores. We Like Corona is out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess Jets.
Owned by Paul Jones and Thompson Racing, Inc, Senor Gianni ran second to We Like Corona, but the effort was good enough to earn him the fourth fastest time of :19.918. Like Ima Fearless Hero, the gelding by Good Reason SA was making his first start since the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity final on October 3. Senor Gianni finished out of the money in that final due to a very troubled trip, but prior to that race he had won three consecutive starts.
“He’s been a completely different horse since he was gelded a couple of months ago,” said co-owner Terry Thompson. “He lost his path in the Breeders Futurity and he cause his own trouble in that race. We have no excuses for that race. I was looking forward to tonight because he came into this race after a nice, sweet drill on November 7. I’ve become good friends with Howard Nichols and we drew the same trial against We Like Corona. It was cool to watch our two horses duel during that race and it’s great that we both qualified.”
Senor Gianni’s qualifying effort is another good moment for Jones and Thompson in the 2-year-old division at Los Alamitos. The two horsemen are part owners of the stallion Favorite Cartel, currently the nation’s third leading freshman stallion in money earned with around $1 million.
“It’s been a great year and it’s been fun to follow all of the Favorite Cartel babies out there,” Thompson said.
Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess finished with the fifth fastest qualifying time of :19.942 after winning the eighth trial by an impressive :19.942. Cody Jensen rode the filly by Apollitical Jess for trainer Lin Melton.
“She’s so big that in the spring we backed off of her and just took our time,” Melton said. “We started her in July and pointed to the Golden State Million trials. She ran a nice second, but did not qualify. We always thought she was fast and she’s gotten better and better. She’s a strong filly and it all came together tonight.”
Aforementioned trainers like Gomez (Corona Cartel in 1996), Flores (Matabari in 2012), and Jones (A Regal Choice in 2003 and Good Reason SA in 2009) have won the Two Million in the past. Melton finished second with the talented Meteoric to First Place Queen in 2002, and he’s also qualified with Royal Miracle Dip (2002) and Double Out (2008).
“After we ran Double Out in the Two Million trials we went to Rodney’s Bar (across from the winner’s circle at Los Alamitos) and we stayed there until the trials were over and Double Out had qualified. I’m superstitious so we did the same thing after Time For Jess ran. We just stayed there at Rodney’s Bar.”
Denny Boer and Spackman Racing campaigned Double Out, which would go on to finish a solid fifth to Tres Passes in that year’s Los Alamitos Two Million final. Spackman Racing will have another runner in the ‘Deuce’ thanks to Time For Jess’ big effort.
“We’ve been with Lin since 1973, more than 40 years,” said K.C. Spackman. “This feels great right now.”
Rancho El Alacran’s Mi Viejo has come on strong during the second half of the year. The Mexican-bred colt by Mr Jess Perry won his trial to the Golden State Million and ran fifth in the final. He looked sharp on Sunday evening, as he posted a solid ¾ length win in the sixth fastest time of :19.948 under jockey Joe Badilla for trainer Adriana Aceves. His win came in the 10th trial.
“It’s a big relief to see him post that good an effort in one of the last trials,” Aceves said. “When it happens that late in the night you feel like you’re so close to the final and that you have a good chance to move on. He’s been getting better and better. The big difference is the distance. His mother (Lady of Lake) is a Thoroughbred so the longer the distance the better it is for him.”
Rodrigo Aceves, Adriana’s husband, piloted Mi Viejo in the Golden State Million final, but the veteran jockey had shoulder surgery earlier this week, which forced him to miss Sunday’s trials.
“It’s too bad that Rodrigo could not ride, but we’re happy to have Joe Badilla. With Rodrigo the pain was too much and he needed to have the shoulder surgery. He’s feeling a lot better now.”
Walk Thru Crystal and Docs Best Card are the only two juveniles to qualify to all three of the million dollar races contested this year at Los Alamitos. The winner of the Ed Burke Million and the fourth place finisher in the Golden State Million, EG High Desert Farm’s Walk Thru Crystal was sharp in winning the third trial. Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Yanet Rodriguez, the filly by Walk Thru Fire was picking up her sixth win in eight starts this season. She won her trial by one length and in a time of :19.949.
“She’s such a quiet, smart, and nice filly,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t have to worry about her wasting energy or acting silly. She’s all business. That’s what I love about her.”
McKinnerney’s Jess A Pollitician beat Walk Thru Crystal when the two qualified to the Golden State Million. However, Jess A Pollitician had to miss the race due to going on the vet’s list for 14 days after bleeding in the trials.
“I’m so glad for Janet that he made it,” Flores said of the Apollitical Jess gelding. “It was tough to see him miss the Golden State, but it’s great for him and the owner that he’ll be a part of the Two Million.”
The final two spots went to the 1-2 finishers of trial number nine, Sale Topper and Dynasty Energy. Owned by Ed Allred, Sale Topper edged Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Dynasty Energy by a nose to win the trial in a time of :20.031.
“(Sale Topper) had a great start,” said trainer Scott Willoughby, who won the Two Million last year with He Looks Hot. “He made a funny move in the second half of the race, but he recovered, kept going and was able to catch Dynasty Energy. I thought he was going to win easy after the way he started this race, but (Dynasty Energy) got ahead of him when he made that mistake. (Jockey) Carlos Huerta did a great job to get him back on the lead.”
Bred by Allred, Sale Topper was picking up his third win in seven career starts.
Trained by Chris O’Dell and ridden by Tony Guymon, Dynasty Energy covered the distance in a time of :20.036. The FDD Dynasty gelding won the California Breeders Freshman Stakes earlier this year.
LOS ALAMITOS TRACK NOTES: Owners Howard Nichols, Janet McKinnerney, and Ed Allred have previous wins in the Los Alamitos Two Million. Nichols was part owner of 2011 winner I Like The Odds, while McKinnerney campaigned the aforementioned Tres Passes. Allred has won the Two Million twice. He won the 1998 running with Kingman Kid and the 2014 renewal with He Looks Hot….Jockey Carlos Huerta piloted He Looks Hot to victory in the Two Million last year…Joe Badilla won the inaugural running of this event, then known as the Los Alamitos Million Futurity, aboard Abigail Kawananakoa’s Evening Snow in 1995. Badilla also won it with Allred’s Kingman Kid, which was trained by Kelly Lewis… Donna McArthur is the only other female trainer to have won the Two Million and now Adriana Aceves looks to become the third with Mi Viejo... Leading Quarter Horse jockey Cruz Mendez qualified all three of Flores’ horses, including second fastest qualifier Ima Fearless Hero. Mendez will have a big decision to make, as to which horse he’ll ride in the final. He won this race with Matabari in 2012…Corona Cartel (Docs Best Card and We like Corona), Walk Thru Fire (Walk Thru Crytal and Sale Topper), and Apollitical Jess (Time For Jess and Jess A Pollitician) are the sires of two qualifiers each. The other stallions to be represented in the Two Million are Valiant Hero (Ima Fearless Hero), Good Reason SA (Senor Gianni), Mr Jess Perry (Mi Viejo), and FDD Dynasty (Dynasty Energy)…Mi Viejo is Spanish for My Old Man…Senor Gianni is named in memory of the great Brazilian breeder and owner Gianni Franco Samaja, who won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and Champion of Champions with the stallion Good Reason SA.
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