"Team Aceves" Sweeps El Primero Trials

The team of trainer Adriana Aceves and her husband, jockey Rodrigo Aceves, win all three El Primero del Ano Derby trials Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Edited press release

Trainer Adriana Aceves and jockey Rodrigo Aceves pose in the Los Alamitos winner's circle with El Primero del Ano Derby fastest qualifier Mi Viejo. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Trainer Adriana Aceves described March of 2007 as the most difficult time of her life.

“I lost my mom, Ana Rosa, on this day nine years ago,” the trainer said. “She was my guardian angel then, and she’s still my guardian angel to this day. My silks and the color pink that use with my horses are in her honor. My sister and I went to church this morning, and I told my sister that we were going to have a good night at the races.”

Aceves and her husband, jockey Rodrigo Aceves, enjoyed a great night at the track, as the couple combined to win all three 400-yard trials to the $210,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby on Sunday at Los Alamitos. With Rodrigo in the irons, Aceves sent out the 32-1 longshot Eternity to a nose win the opening trial of night. Then the couple won back-to-back races with Rancho El Alacran Inc’s talented duo of Mi Viejo and El Compa JV to complete the trial sweep.

“It’s awesome,” the trainer said. “He’s my team, my family, to have Rodrigo riding horses again, that’s the best gift I could have”

The honor of fastest qualifier went to the talented multiple Grade 1 finalist Mi Viejo, a Mexico-bred colt by Mr Jess Perry who won the second trial by a half-length over My Favorite Check in :19.831. The victory was Mi Viejo’s third in 11 career starts, but it marked the fourth time that he has qualified to a stakes race at Los Alamitos.

Bred by Joaquin Vega, Mi Viejo previously qualified to the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge, the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity and the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The only time the sorrel colt missed making a final was this past January, when he broke out and finished fourth in a Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) trial.

“He did a lot better tonight,” Adriana Aceves said. “I’m pretty happy. I’m pretty impressed. My horses did well tonight. I’m just glad that he ran awesome tonight and I just hope he keeps doing the same.”

Rancho El Alacran Inc’s El Compa JV dominated his trial, as he cruised to a 1 ¼-length victory in :19.856 in the final trial. Rodrigo Aceves, meanwhile, looks to be back in top form as one of the best riders at Los Alamitos. Currently tied with Ramon Sanchez for sixth place all-time with 1,751 Quarter Horse wins here, Aceves has won seven races from 39 starts since his return from injury this season.

Aceves has won a pair of stakes races already. The jockey is coming back after battling a series of injuries that included a broken foot, a shoulder injury and most recently a painful clavicle injury that required surgery. Surgeries to his shoulder and clavicle have left him with a scar in the shape of an X on his right side.

“I feel blessed to be back riding and to be able to enjoy a great night like tonight - not just for me, but also for my wife,” he said. “It’s great to have three mounts and come back with three wins.”

And does he ever think about his past injuries?

“Once the race starts you forget about them,” he said. “As time goes and I ride more and more, I’ll gain more and more confidence.”

“He got hurt after 2 ½ years of dealing with injuries and having just come back,” Adriana added. “That was tough for him, but he had a lot family support. He’s back now. My dad said to him ‘it’s ups and downs and right now it’s your turn (to have a down moment). Just don’t give up.’ ”

Rodrigo Aceves will now have a decision to make as to which of the three trial winners he’ll ride in the El Primero final.

“I like all three, but right now I would pick El Compa JV," he said. "We’ll see how the horses do when we take them out to gallop after their races. We’ll see how they feel and how they train to the race. We’ll go from there.”

The big surprise of the night was Adriana Aceves’ Eternity, a First Down Dash gelding she claimed for $16,000 on January 8. In his first start for his new connections, Eternity was eighth in the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes trials before running sharply to hold off Winter Derby top qualifier Rite Regal and Chicks Fayvorite in the opening El Primero trial.

“I felt that with a good break that we had a shot,” she said. “Rodrigo knows him better now.”

Click here for a complete list of qualifiers.

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