Moonist, Dutcher Score Vessels Maturity Trial Wins

Moonist is the fastest qualifier to the July 3, $152,000 final at Los Alamitos.

Q-Racing Journal

Making his first start in seven months, Dutcher won the second of two Vessels Maturity trials at Los Alamitos on Sunday. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Ron Hartley's Moonist is the fastest qualifier to the July 3, $152,000 Vessels Maturity (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Cesar DeAlba for trainer John Cooper in the first of two 400-yard trials on Sunday, Moonist defeated He Looks Hot by 2 1/4 lengths in :19.486 for his 24th win in 24 starts.

"It was pretty easy," said DeAlba. "He has been leaving pretty strong, and that just makes it a lot easier. He gets a pretty good start and then just kicks on for home. I just have to get after him a little bit and just hold on."

"Hopefully, he pulls up well after this race," added Cooper. "That's always the next worry after they run. You don't have to do much with the good ones. We'll pony him a little bit and just take it real easy with him (before the final)."

Dutcher, a homebred Apollitical Jess gelding owned by Jumonville Farms and Brian Ranch, made his 4-year-old debut with a half-length victory as the 2-1 favorite in the second heat. Eduardo Nicasio rode Dutcher for trainer Juan Aleman.

Dutcher was making his first start since November 14, when he ran second in the Grade 1, 440-yard Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park.

"We were pointing him for this race after the Texas Classic," said Aleman. "We gave him some time off and freshened him up and it worked out.

"No surgery; this horse is sound," he added. "We just gave him some time off to have him ready for this race."

The winner of the Vessels Maturity will earn a berth in this year's Champion of Champions (G1).

Click here for a complete list of qualifiers.

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