April 9-10 Stakes Recap

A recap of non-graded stakes action.

Q-Racing Journal

Jesus Rios Ayala rode Dr Jess to a nose victory in Sunday's Lakewood Handicap at Los Alamitos. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Following is a recap of all official American Quarter Horse stakes action for the week of April 9-10. For recaps of graded stakes, Bank of America Racing Challenge stakes, and stakes with purses of $100,000 or more, see the individual recap stories in the Racing News section. This page will be updated throughout the week.

Los Alamitos

J. Francisco Diaz’s Freakish outran his 9-1 odds to win Saturday’s James Smith Memorial Handicap.

Ridden by Jesus Ayala for trainer Lindolfo Diaz, the owner’s son, Freakish covered 350 yards in :17.589 en route to a neck victory from 4-5 favorite Flay. The $11,000 winner’s share of the $20,000 purse pushed the sorrel son of Stel Corona’s earnings to $38,130.

“He surprised me,” said Lindolfo Diaz. “I knew he was doing good, but I honestly didn’t think he was going to win. I thought if we’d ran third, I’d be happy. He broke like a shot and they just couldn’t catch him.”

Freakish was bred in California by Ed Allred. The gelding has won two races since he was claimed for $16,000 on New Year’s Day.

“I got him on a two-way shake, and he’s run his heart out for us,” Diaz added. “I got him paid up for the Southern California Derby, and I’ll probably run him on California Breeders’ Champions Night. This horse has been good luck for us.”

All told, Freakish has won four of 12 starts, including an allowance race on February 14.

Strawfinders Jessee, Coach Carter, Apollitical Gamble, Obi Juan Kanobi, and Luv On The Run completed the order of finish.

EG High Desert Farms' Dr Jess sprinted to a nose victory in Sunday's 350-yard, $15,000 Lakewood Handicap.

Saddled by Yanet Rodriguez, Dr Jess reached the wire in :17.726 and earned an 88 speed index while scoring his first career stakes win. Jesus Rios Ayala rode the 4-year-old gelded son of champion Mr Jess Perry and the graded stakes winning Corona Cartel mare Eye For Corona.

The start of the race was delayed when 18-1 longshot Foosilame became fractious in the gate.

"(Dr Jess) got very nervous, and he looked a little down after that happened," Rios Ayala said. "But he broke nicely, and we had the lead. (He Looks Hot) got after me and started taking off, but my horse finished really strong and got there first."

Dr Jess was coming off of a fourth-place finish in the March 6 Irvine Handicap. Rodriguez, who ponies her own horses on race night, admitted that she was a little anxious when she was watching the activity in the starting gate prior to the Lakewood.

"I was worried when they pulled him out of the gate, because some horses don't come back after that," the trainer said. "That's what happened in the last handicap (the Irvine). He didn't come back. He just played around.

"I'm happy that he turned it around," Rodriguez added. "I couldn't see him racing from behind the gate, but I saw that he broke clean and then I just heard the call of the race. I couldn't see much, but thankfully he went all the way through."

Dr Jess was bred in California by Julianna Hawn Holt. The gelding has won five of 12 races, and the $8,250 winner's share of the Lakewood Handicap purse increased his bankroll to $41,115.

He Looks Hot, the even-money favorite, finished second and was followed by Jiffy James, Blistering Speed, First Down Tiny Man, Discontent, and Foosilame.

Turf Paradise
Tres N Candy remained undefeated with a nose victory in the second of two John Deere Turf Paradise Juvenile Challenge trials on Sunday.

Prepped by Omar Lorta for owner Y/N Horse Stables LLC, Tres N Candy went 350 yards on a sloppy and sealed track in :18.186 under jockey Luis Yescas. The gray daughter of champion Tres Seis, who broke her maiden in her debut March 13 at Rillito Park, recorded the fastest qualifying time for the May 1, $25,000-added final.

Tres N Candy was bred in California by Guy Rodrigues Peixoto Jr. The filly has banked $2,849 from her two outs.

Click here for a complete list of qualifiers.

Also on Sunday, Ugo de la Torre's Magical Jess posted the fastest qualifying time for the May 1, $30,000-added Desert Classic Futurity.

Making his debut in the second of three 300-yard trials, Magical Jess defeated Countless Ways by a neck in :15.863 on a sloppy and sealed track. Rodolfo Arvizu rode the California-bred One Sweet Jess colt for trainer Mario Loza.

Magical Jess was bred by Enrique Gonzalez's EG High Desert Farms. The colt is out of Magic And Rhythm, a 16-year-old daughter of Red Hot Rhythm who won the 2003 Governor's Cup Derby (RG1) at Los Alamitos.

Click here for a complete list of finalists.

Chase Clark rode third-fastest qualifier Justified to the colt's first career stakes win in Sunday's 350-yard, $45,790 Arizona QRA President's Open Spring Derby.

Trained by Chad Ferguson for owners Tim Holdaway and David Perry, Justified covered his trip in :17.625 on a sloppy and sealed track, and his margin of victory was a head from Heza A Royal Jess. The $22,895 winner's share of the purse pushed the bay son of champion Foose's bankroll to $25,967.

Justified was bred in Texas by Lucas Racing Inc. and Vaughn Cook. A winner of two of his four starts, the colt was a $13,000 buy at the 2014 Heritage Place Mixed Sale in Oklahoma City.

May Be Fantastic SA, the fastest qualifier, finished third and was followed by Domaine, Jess Call Me Fancy, Extra Ordinary Perry, Docs Famous Eagle, La China Maluca, Kedahuerfana, and Im Flyin.

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.