Zoomin For Spuds Wins Champion of Champions

The Idaho-bred gelding earns his first Grade 1 win.

Q-Racing Journal

Jim Walker's Zoomin For Spuds, an Idaho-bred son of Zoomin For Bux, outran his 10-1 odds to win Saturday's Champion of Champions. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Making just his second start at the classic 440-yard distance, Jim Walker's Zoomin For Spuds scored his first Grade 1 victory in Saturday's Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Zoomin For Spuds stopped the timer in a hand-timed :21.30, and the homebred 3-year-old son of the Shazoom stallion Zoomin For Bux's margin of victory was a head from reigning world champion Heza Dasha Fire. Jesus Ayala rode the gelding for trainer Monty Arrossa.

Zoomin For Spuds earned his Champion of Champions berth by winning a 400-yard Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Trial on November 13. The gelding's win in the big race sends an encouraging message to the breeders in Idaho, a state whose racing industry has undergone some tough times since the closing of its flagship track, Les Bois Park in Boise.

"Keep going, that's what this win says," said Arrossa. "This is a testament that the small breeders, the 40-year breeders, can do it. If we can band together up there and keep things alive, we can produce good horses that can compete here. I hope we don't give up (in Idaho)."

The connections of Zoomin For Spuds -- (from
left) trainer Monty Arrossa, jockey jesus Ayala,
and owner and breeder Jim Walker -- celebrate
the gelding's victory. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Walker, an octogenerian who until a few years ago operated a sand and gravel company, had a direct hand in the foaling of Zoomin For Spuds.

"I pulled him right out of his mom,” said Walker. "I knew he was something special right after he was born. At four and a half months he jumped over a 4-rail fence. It was pretty impossible for a horse that is just a baby to do. He never even touched the thing. I knew then that I had an athlete.

“I breed all my own mares,” he added. “I’m down to two mares, but the mother of Zoomin For Spuds, A Perfect Cocktail, is a 100-percent producer. I liked his sire, Zoomin For Bux's, conformation, and what I really like is that he had a 117 speed index. I would see pictures of him and he was just so well balanced. I thought he was perfect, as perfect as any horse I had ever seen.”

Raced in Idaho, New Mexico, and California, Zoomin For Spuds has won eight of 18 outs, and the $300,000 winner's share of the $600,000 Champion of Champions purse -- Quarter Horse racing's richest for older horses -- pushed his earnings to $415,543, of which $352,581 has been banked from six wins in nine races this season.

All told, Zoomin For Spuds has won seven stakes, all at Los Alamitos. Earlier this year, the gelding traveled back to his home state of Idaho, where he ran third, a half of a length behind winner Magic Moment Blues, in the 400-yard, $38,307 Bitterroot Derby (R) at Sandy Downs.

“The Bitterroot, some of the best horses have come from the Northwest and have run in the Bitterroot,” Arrossa said. “It’s very tough up there. It’s hard to win that race. It's our All American Futurity, our Super Derby. There are good horsemen in the Northwest, and it’s tough to outrun them.”

Arrossa indicated that Zoomin For Spuds would be pointed to the January 22 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) trials.

Heza Dasha Fire was looking to become only the fourth back-to-back winner of the Champion of Champions. The homebred gelding, who is trained by Jose Flores for S-Quarter K LLC of Kennewick, Washington, earned $96,000 to bring his lifetime bankroll to $1,918,737 from 17 starts.

“He did not break as fast as he usually does,” said Cruz Mendez, who rode Heza Dasha Fire. “He was a little nervous in the starting gate. He took the early lead, but Zoomin For Spuds caught him in the last few jumps. He just didn’t finish as fast as he usually does, but he still ran a good race.”

Big Lew ran third, a half of a length behind Zoomin For Spuds, and was followed by AJs High, Heat Warning, Sass Me Blue, Militarist, He Looks Hot, Forget It, and Rite Regal.

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