KVN Corona Takes El Primero del Ano Derby

The Corona Cartel colt kept his perfect record intact on Saturday.

Q-Racing Journal

Champion KVN Corona sprinted to his third stakes victory on Saturday. PHOTO: Los Alamitos Racecourse

Keith W. Nellesen's KVN Corona kept his perfect record intact with a half-length victory in Saturday's 400-yard, $235,200 El Primero del Ano Derby (G3) for 3-year-old colts and geldings at Los Alamitos.

Prepped by Paul Jones and sent to post as the 8-5 favorite, KVN Corona stopped the timer in :19.683 while earning his eighth win in as many starts. The $98,784 winner's share of the purse from his third career stakes score pushed the Corona Cartel colt's bankroll to $679,534.


The Nellesen family is joined in the
Los Alamitos winner's circle by New
England Patriots linebacker Kyle
Van Noy (right) and his wife,
Marissa. PHOTO: Los Alamitos

KVN Corona was bred in Utah by McColee Land and Livestock LLC, and he was the sport's champion 2-year-old colt last season.

“He’s a pleasure to train,” Jones said. “He’s the kind of a horse that makes trainers look good. He was set and ready to go (in the El Primero). There was a horse acting up on the outside and they were in the starting gates for a little bit. He didn’t get away quite as good as I thought he would and kind of got brushed a little bit. Two or three jumps and he was right there. He kind of broke through it.

"Horses can go one way or the other," the trainer added. "Some horse come back off when that happens. Some horses can run through it. He’s such a classy horse that he runs right through. He has the will to get to the lead and he gets it done.”

KVN Corona was named after New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who with his wife, Marissa, was at the track to watch the El Primero.

“It’s a lot better watching it live than on TV late at night being on the East Coast," Van Noy said. "It’s way better being in here and seeing him run. All thanks to the trainer and the people behind the scenes who take care of him day in and day out. They should be getting all the credit because they are the ones that are doing the hard work.

“Keith is an amazing person, a big influential person in my life,” said Van Noy of Nellesen. “I’m really blessed and proud to be a part of his family. He means a lot to me and I’m just happy that he gets to win situations and horse races like this because he deserves it.”

To date, KVN Corona has raced exclusively at Los Alamitos. However, Nellesen indicated that the colt might be headed to New Mexico to compete in trials for Ruidoso Downs' Grade 1 derbies.

“With what we saw from the new ownership at Ruidoso, we’re pretty sure that we’re going to go to Ruidoso for the summer,” Nellesen said. “I didn’t keep him paid in (to the derbies there), but I’ll supplement him. We’re going to go over there and see what we can do. The Los Alamitos Super Derby is really the race we want to win. We’ll probably supplement him to the All American Derby and the others as well.

"I want to support what those guys are doing over there, he added. "We’re running all of our 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos, but I also think we have to give him the chance to run against some different competition and see what happens.”

Black Fryday finished second and was followed by King Of Appeals MV, The Revenant, Ditto Head, Eyes The Favorite, One More Cigarr, Rockin Asteroid, Yanque, and Eagles Policy.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.