Sass Me Blue Takes Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap

The 4-year-old mare earns a berth in the Champion of Champions.

Edited press release

Cody Jensen rode Sass Me Blue to the mare's first stakes win in Sunday's $100,000 Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Lucky Seven Ranch’s Sass Me Blue scored her first stakes victory in Sunday's Grade 1, $100,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Mike Casselman, Sass Me Blue was third at the start, but quickly took the lead and finished nicely to beat the 18-1 longshot Jess Good Reason by a head in :19.811 for 400 yards. The 4-year-old Valiant Hero mare earned $50,000 and a berth in the 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) on December 10.

“It’s been a long time since Blues Girl Too,” said Lucky Seven Ranch’s Russell Stooks referring to his 2007 Champion of Champions winner.  “Blues Girl Too was the last horse we had in the Champion of Champions, so qualifying to another Champion of Champions is pretty special for us. It’s a good feeling.

"The Mildred Vessels was a good race," Stooks added. "It was very competitive and everybody got away clean. Tonight we had the best horse.”

Blues Girl Too is the last filly or mare to win the Champion of Champions and her winning 440-yard time of :21.13 broke Dash For Cash’s stakes record time of :21.17. Blues Girl Too’s record time has since been broken, but her performance remains one of the most impressive Champion of Champions wins ever.

Sass Me Blue will now look to give Russell and his wife, Lisa, another great Champion of Champions moment.

“This was a good race for us," Stooks said. "It’s a sweet win. She would win, but then not qualify for the finals. She would lose by a half-length, a head, a nose, it was tough. It’s special to see her win and get in the Champion of Champions.” 

Sass Me Blue's defeated opponents in the Millie Vessels included reigning champion aged mare Quirky. The mare was bred in Utah by Lance Robinson and Max Anderson, and she has won six of 13 starts and has earned $272,878. While she was in the starting gate for the Millie Vessels, a few of her rivals became antsy and acted up, but Sass Me Blue never flinched.

“That was our big advantage in there,” Jensen said. “She really settled down in the gates good while all that business was going on up there. Some of them other ones may not have handled it quite as good as we did. We got away really good, and I was able to hang on in there.” 

“I’m really excited about getting a chance to run in the Champion of Champions,” Casselman said. “We’ve been setting our sights for this for a while, so I’m glad she had the chance to come through for us. (Sass Me Blue) just tries every time.

"We ran against Quirky once before off a two week layoff," the trainer added. "We had a little bigger layoff this time. That helped us I believe. She just gives 100 percent every time.”

Apollitical Zoom finished third and was followed by Quirky, Take A Look, Nymph, Jess Cuz, Bac In Front, Tallulah Moon, and Political Chick.

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