Jess Good Reason is Best in La Primera Trials

The Grade 1-placed daughter of champion Good Reason SA won the second of three heats at Los Alamitos on Saturday.

Press release

Jess Good Reason scored a 2 1/4-length win in the second of three La Primera del Ano Derby trials at Los Alamitos on Saturday. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

John and Cina Sperry’s Jess Good Reason had a “wow moment” on Saturday night, as the filly by Good Reason SA posted a dominating 2 ¼-length victory in the second of three trials to the $227,100 La Primera Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Roberto Hernandez for trainer Paul Jones, Jess Good Reason had one of the best starts to a race of her young career and she never looked back on the way to posting the fastest qualifying time of :19.810 at 400 yards. With the win, the Preston and Karen Cloud-bred filly improved her record to four wins in six starts while establishing herself as the one to beat in the La Primera final on April 2.

“She’s fast, what can I say?” Hernandez said. “She’s a good filly. She was trying to go to the outside during the race. I don’t know if she was looking for company, but there was no company.”

Hernandez has been the only one to ride Jess Good Reason in her six career starts. The pilot guided her to a come-from-behind victory in the Holiday Handicap, a race in which she went from sixth to first place, and also helped go from fifth to second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on February 13.

“She got out good this time,” said John Sperry. “I won this race two years ago with Revv Me Up. It’s fun to have a filly like Jess Good Reason. We have a couple of more derbies for her this year.”

Sperry is savoring every minute of owning Jess Good Reason and for good reason.

“Cina and I will be retiring from owning horses in a couple of years,” he said. “I have two more (babies) after Jess Good Reason and then that’s it. One is out of (PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner) Goodbye Kisser by Stel Corona and the other one is out of Revv Me Up’s mother (2008 Kindergarten Futurity winner Revv It Up) by PYC Paint Your Wagon. The breeding is there on both horses. We’ll see if they are there.”  

Sperry knows where Jess Good Reason will be on April 2: the La Primera Del Ano Derby final.

The opening trial went to Hilda Torres’ First N Final, a one-time $10,000 claimer. This was the filly’s first win since trainer Valentin Zamudio claimed her for Torres.

“She ran well,” Zamudio said. “I’ve always liked this filly. She’s a hard worker and a fighter. I liked the 400-yard distance for her because she’s a strong finisher even though she’s small. We claimed her for $10,000 and in her first start with us we ran her in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity at 400 yards. She finished third (to qualifiers Sale Topper and Dynasty Energy).

"Her next start was against $20,000 claimers and she was a close second, but that race was at 300 yards," he added. "She gave us two more good efforts, but I loved that she was going to run again at 400 yards in this race.”

Zamudio is now hoping that the little filly with the big afterburners can give him the biggest victory of his training career.

“We’ve been in a few big stakes races like the Los Alamitos Super Derby, but we mostly have claiming horses,” he said. “We’re happy with this filly.”

First N Final was ridden to victory by Cesar DeAlba, currently the meet’s leading Quarter Horse jockey.

“First N Final always breaks a little slow but finishes really strong," DeAlba said. "At the gap I was pretty much heads up with everybody and I figured that it would be tough to beat her once she started getting into that kick (of hers) at the end. She broke a little bit out and had a few mistakes but she ran a good race.”

Steve Burns’ All American Futurity finalist Crooked Path won the final trial of the night in a time of :19.984. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for Jones, Crooked Path beat rising star Jess Ravin by a half-length while posting the third fastest qualifying time.

“She felt great,” Sanchez said. “I think she’s going to do well in the final. (Jess Ravin) was getting closer to us at the halfway mark, but we kept going.”

A two-time AQHA champion jockey, Sanchez missed the last four months of 2015 and the first two months of 2016 with an injured bicep. The veteran rider is hoping that injuries are a thing of the past.

“I feel good,” Sanchez said. “I had been dealing with a lot of injuries. I hurt my foot, then my clavicle, then shoulder. I had some time to rest and to get ready to come back.”

A winning ride in the La Primera final would be a nice “welcome back gift” for the two-time champ.

Click here for a complete list of La Primera del Ano Derby qualifiers.

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