Big Lew Wins Los Alamitos Super Derby

The Corona Cartel colt earns a Champion of Champions berth Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Q-Racing Journal

Jimmy Dean Brooks rode Big Lew to a half-length win in Sunday's Grade 1, 400-yard Los Alamitos Super Derby. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

In one night, Reliance Ranches LLC's Big Lew earned his first stakes win and a berth in this year's Champion of Champions (G1) as the brown son of Corona Cartel sprinted to a wire-to-wire victory in Sunday's $767,750 Los Alamitos Super Derby.

Ridden by Jimmy Dean Brooks for trainer Mike Robbins, Big Lew covered 400 yards in :19.723, and his winning margin was a half of a length from 13-10 favorite and fastest qualifier Rite Regal. The colt will now be pointed to the 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1), American Quarter Horse racing richest and most prestigious race for older horses, on December 10.

Big Lew was coming off of a head win in his Super Derby trial on October 15, defeating a field that included champion and Grade 1 winner Ima Fearless Hero and graded stakes winner Flay.

"(Prior to the trials) we needed to work out of the gate, but we decided to just let him go in the trials as is,” said Robbins. “He didn’t get away as sharp (in the trials), but tonight I felt that he would break a lot sharper and he did. He was really running big at the end.”

Robbins won the 1991 Champion of Champions with Joe Kirk Fulton's Special Leader, that year's eventual world champion. He also won the race with Sgt Pepper Feature (1982) and Dashs Dream ('84), who also went on to earn world champion honors.

Gary McKinney of Reliance Ranches
holds the Los Alamitos Super Derby
trophy after Big Lew's victory on
Sunday. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Only Blane Schaneveldt (nine wins) and Paul Jones (six) have won the Champion of Champions more than Robbins. 

“It’s been a good race for me,” Robbins said of the Champion of Champions. “I’ve saddled eight head in the race, won three and ran second twice. I've won it twice with 3-year-olds.”

Meanwhile, Reliance Ranches will have a horse in the Champion of Champions for the third time after All American Derby winner Feature Hero qualified to the 2013 running and Grade 1 winner Rock You qualified last year out of the Z. Wayne Griffin trials. Gary McKinney owns Reliance Ranches with his son Micah and daughter-in-law Leslie. The family has always enjoyed horses and the agricultural lifestyle and purchased the famous Lazy E Ranch in Oklahoma in November of 2013. 

“He’s just a good horse and gives it his all," said Gary McKinney of Big Lew. "He doesn’t leave anything on the track and he just did it again. He does basically the same thing every time. He runs well early, but he does have a kick in the middle to the end. I think this horse can run 440 (yards), but he’s always done a little better at 400. He is maturing so hopefully he’ll do well at 440.”

Big Lew was bred in Utah by McColee Land and Livestock. The colt has won seven of 17 races, and the $322,455 winner's share of the Super Derby purse pushed his eaarnings to $525,189.

Robbins will now start pointing Big Lew to the Champion of Champions.

"He’ll be tough," said Robbins of the colt. "I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the McKinneys. They’re great people. I’m glad that we’re having some success early. It makes everything better.

"Hopefully we’ll get something in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity as well," the trainer added. "We’ll have three horses in the trials. We’ll go back to Oklahoma and get the babies ready. We’ll be back here after Remington Park with a set of horses for the Ed Burke Million.”  

Time For Jess finished third and was followed by Ima Fearless Hero, Flash N Bling, Rip Tide, Jess A Pollitician, Docs Best Card, Go Black Benny and Flay.

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