Field Set for Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions
BH LIsas Boy, Jess Good Reason win divisions of the Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Stakes on Sunday.
November 20, 2017
The field for the December 16, $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) is set after five horses earned berths to the sport's richest race for older horses from two Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials at Los Alamitos on Sunday.
Jess Good Reason, He Looks Hot, Da One Two Special, Zoomin For Spuds, Firing Tools qualified on Sunday and will join BH Lisas Boy, 2015 world champion Heza Dasha Fire, Chazaq, Time For Jess, and The Fiscal Cliff in the 45th running of the Champion of Champions. The 10 starters in the upcoming Champion of Champions have combined to win 87 of 189 starts and have earned $6,374,527.
Jess Good Reason won the first Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Trial. Trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Oscar Peinado for owners John and Cina Sperry, the 4-year-old daughter of Good Reason SA covered 400 yards in :19.686 at odds of 11-1.
“She’s been training a lot better, and she came into this race a lot better,” said Jones. “When she gets out of the gate that good, she doesn't get beat.
"She’s blossomed towards the end of this year," the trainer added. "We had a couple of little issues with her early on. She’s over them now and is back to form."
Jess Good Reason was bred in Oklahoma by Preston and Karen Cloud. The mare has won nine of 21 starts and has earned $368,234, but Sunday's victory marked her first win since January 8, when she captured the Grade 1, 400-yard Charger Bar Handicap for distaffers at Los Alamitos.
“She had like a hematoma on her hip,” said Jones about the cause of her mid-year struggles. “We drained it and it got infected. It made her sick. She got kind of down from it. It’s all healed up and she looks like a different horse right now. She’s training great now.
“Everything has kind of come together at the right time,” the trainer added. “We’re happy because she’s our only horse in the Champion of Champions. I think she’ll relish the 440 yards. She reminds me a lot of her sire, Good Reason SA, who won the Champion of Champions. She looks so much like him in everything she does.”
BH Lisas Boy, a homebred 5-year-old son of Mighty Invictus owned and trained by Bill Hoburg, won the second Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Trial in :19.697. Cesar DeAlba rode the gelding, who earned $8,250 to bring his bankroll to $414,948 from 26 outs.
BH Lisas Boy had already earned a Champion of Champions berth from his win in the February 19 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1). The gelding was making his first start since July 2, when he scored a victory in the Vessels Maturity (G1).
“This has been very trying the last five months,” Hoburg said. “When you set a horse up for a race you go from beginning to finish. On July 8 we operated on this horse and on July 9 I set out an itinerary for him from this race and then (working) backwards. I put on the calendar target dates that I wanted him to meet. He exceeded every one by a week to 10 days. This horse just shows so much heart and courage. He amazes me.”
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