Field Set for July 28, $203,000 Governor's Cup Derby

Ditto Head is the fastest qualifier from trials held Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Q-Racing Journal

Fortuna Properties Inc.'s Ditto Head won the second of two Governor's Cup Derby trials on Sunday. PHOTO: Los Alamitos Racecourse

Ditto Head, a son of champion Foose owned by Fortuna Properties Inc., is the fastest qualifier to the July 28, $203,000 Governor's Cup Derby (RG3).

Ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Mike Casselman, Ditto Head on Sunday won the second of two 400-yard trials by a half of a length from Black Fryday in :19.728. The brown gelding was winning for the fourth time in 11 starts, all at Los Alamitos.

Ditto Head was bred by Alessio/Brown/Davies LLC, and he was making his first start since May 19, when he ran third in the Dillingham Handicap.

“All I can say is that this horse runs well fresh,” Casselman said. “He’s also become a more professional horse. He used to be tough to saddle, but now he’s a lot easier to work with and be around. He’s become such a nice horse.”

 
J Fire Up, last year's champion
2-year-old, made her season debut
with a victory in the first of two
Governor's Cup Derby trials.
PHOTO: Los Alamitos Racecourse
 

Also on Sunday, champion J Fire Up made her season debut with a nose victory in the first heat. Racing for Darling Farms, Ernesto Solis, and trainer Jaime Gomez, the homebred daughter of Kiddy Up went 400 yards in :19.922 under jockey Eduardo Nicasio.

J Fire Up has won eight of 10 starts and has banked $1,433,711, and she was last year's champion 2-year-old. The filly was making her first start since December 17, when she dominated her competition with a wire-to-wire, 1 1/4-length victory in the 400-yard, $1.745-million Los Alamitos Two-Million Futurity (G1).

“I was really nervous to tell you the truth,” said Gomez, who also bred J Fire Up. “This was her first time out since December, but this filly is nice. She doesn’t make too many mistakes. I worked her pretty good three times before this race, but you need a race. They get more air with the race. She has one now. We’ll take it pretty easy with her from now until the final.”

J Fire Up had minor surgery after her 2-year-old season, during which she set the all-time single-season earnings record -- $1,430,411 -- for a filly or mare at Los Alamitos.

“I’ve ridden many nice horses in my career, and this filly is one of the best,” Nicasio said. “She’s extremely good and I think she’s ready for the final. I had a little bit of trouble at the start. She broke a little high, but we caught (My Favorite Cartel) and she went on to win from there.

"The biggest thing is that she needed the race," the rider added. "She’s an excellent filly."

Nicasio took over the mount on J Fire Up from his younger brother, Jose Nicasio, who was serving a suspension and unable to ride the filly on Sunday. Jose Nicasio is expected to be back aboard the filly for the Governor's Cup Derby final.

Click here for a complete list of qualifiers.

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.