California Breeders' Champions Night Recap

Powerful Favorite wins the night's richest race, the $375,000 Governor's Cup Futurity.

Q-Racing Journal

Powerful Favorite (pink saddle cloth) sprinted to a neck victory in Saturday's Governor's Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos, one of nine stakes on the track's California Breeders' Champions Night program. PHOTO: Los Alamitos Racecourse

Nine official stakes for California-bred Quarter Horses were run on Saturday, California Breeders' Champions Night at Los Alamitos Racecourse.

Following is a recap of the action.

Governor's Cup Futurity (RG2)
Rosenthal Ranch's Powerful Favorite was just that, as the 19-10 choice in the full 10-horse field sprinted to a neck victory in the 350-yard, $375,000 Governor's Cup Futurity (RG2).

Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio for trainer Chris O'Dell, Powerful Favorite handled the distance in :17.564. The $157,500 winner's share of the purse from his first stakes win increased the Favorite Cartel gelding's earnings to $204,385.

Powerful Favorite was bred by James Markum and Dr. Steve Burns. His Governor's Cup Futurity win marked the richest-ever win for Rosenthal Ranch.

"I just wish my husband, Bob, could have been here,” said Connie Rosenthal after the race. “It would have been so important for him. This was his dream. The tears are for Bob. This was all for him."

Bob Rosenthal, who along with his wife Connie, owned and bred Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds for more than 30 years, died at age 82 on March 5 due to cancer. The Rosenthals campaigned 2016 Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner Fire At Will, 1987 Grade 1 Bay Meadows Futurity runner-up Dancedability and many other top Quarter Horses over the years.

“This is the most exciting thing that’s happened to us in 40 years in racing,” Connie added. “I just wish Bob could have been here to enjoy it.”

Connie Rosenthal acquired Powerful Favorite for $90,000 at last year's Los Alamitos Equine Sale. His dam, Remember Me Rose, is a multiple graded stakes winning 14-year-old daughter of Corona Cartel.

Powerful Favorite has raced exclusively at Los Alamitos and was a finalist in the 350-yard, $1.06-million Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) on June 24.

Favorite Wise Lady, You Caught My Eye, Hot Little Kiddy, Striver, Parsons Rocket, Anas Image, Provodnikov, Tac Me Up, and Jess Bein Me completed the official order of finish,

Governor's Cup Derby (RG3)
Sent to post at odds of 10-1, Ron Hartley's Black Fryday sprinted to a wire-to-wire victory in Saturday's $198,000 Governor's Cup Derby (RG3).

Black Fryday covered 400 yards in :19.685 and earned a 95 speed index while posting his fourth win in 12 starts and first stakes victory. Eddie Garcia rode the Favorite Cartel gelding for trainer John Cooper.

Black Fryday's winning margin was a clear 1 1/4 lengths from Chance To Fire. The gelding banked $83,160 for his efforts.

"The start - that’s what this game is about,” Hartley said. “Black Fryday had a good break. He took the lead and that was it. I used to go see this horse at Burns Ranch when he was a yearling. My office in Menifee is about three miles away from the ranch so I visit often. I would see Black Fryday at the ranch and liked him a lot.”

When Burns Ranch, Black Fryday's breeder, consigned the gelding to the 2016 Heritage Place Sale, Hartley followed.

“I wanted the horse and bought him for $30,000,” he said. “He’s been pretty good. He’s always been right there. He finally got one.”

Raced exclusively at Los Alaimtos, Black Fryday has banked $197,110, of which $133,269 has been earned this season. The gelding's season resume includes a second-place finish, a half of a length behind winner KVN Corona, in the 400-yard, $235,000 El Primero del Ano Derby (G3) in March, and he wa a finalist in last year's Golden State Million Futurity (G1).

Dont Foose With Me finished third and was followed by 7-10 favorite J Fire Up, Unblemished, Yanque, Casino Baccarat, My Favorite Cartel, One More Cigarr, and Ditto Head.

Spencer Childers California Breeders' Championship (RG1)
Heza Dasha Fire made his 6-year-old season debut with a three-quarter length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders' Championship.

Heza Dasha Fire dominated his
competition in Saturday's
Spencer Childers California
Breeders' Championship. PHOTO:
Los Alamitos Racecourse

Trained by Jose Flores for owner S-Quarter K LLC, Heza Dasha Fire went 400 yards in :19.546. Cruz Mendez rode the homebred son of Walk Thru Fire.

Heza Dasha Fire, the sport's 2015 world champion, earned $50,000 to bring his lifetime bankroll to $2,217,987. The gelding currently ranks third on the all-time earnings list, behind only Ochoa and Stolis Winner.

“I don’t have enough word to describe (Heza Dasha Fire),” Flores said. “He’s amazing. We had some issues with him last week. He almost didn’t run tonight. Luckily, Dr. Rick Overly and his team did a great job with him and got him going the way he’s supposed to. Hopefully tomorrow everything is good and Dr. Overly will be looking at him for the next week or so to make sure he’s okay.

"The Bank of America California Championship is in two weeks, and it’s still a maybe or maybe not for him," the trainer added. "He still has problems from the Leptospirosis he got two years ago. The horse has had problems because of it on and off. When he tells us something is off, we stop. If he remains healthy and sound then we’ll keep going with him. We’ll go from there.”    

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection with various symptoms that include weight loss, eye redness and swelling, uveitis, abdominal pain, dysuria, etc. It is believed that Heza Dasha Fire contracted the infection in December of 2016.

“We have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Overly and his staff,” said Don Meneely of S-Quarter K LLC. “They, along with Jose, were on top of everything right from the start. With us being 1,000 miles away we were on top of it as much as we could. They have a great team behind him and they did the absolute best for him and kept a close watch on him. Everything was fine today and he had been eating well the last three or four days. He was ready to go.”

Heza Dasha Fire has won 16 of 22 starts, all at Los Alamitos. The Spencer Childers California Breeders' Championship marked the gelding's first race since December 16, when he ran second, a half of a length behind longshot winner Mr Pyc To You, in the 440-yard, $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1).

LD Is Back, Tarzanito, Royaltys Authority, Katella Deli, and Renewed completed the order of finish.

California Breeders' Matron Stakes (RG3)
Thermonuclear Energy was a prompt 7-10 favorite in Saturday's $40,000 California Breeders' Matron Stakes (RG3) for fillies and mares.

Trained by Chris O'Dell for the Parsons Family Limited Partnership and ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, Thermonuclear Energy covered 400 yards in :19.705, and her winning margin was three-quarters of a length from 3-1 second choice Jess Hawk. The homebred 5-year-old daughter of Walk Thru Fire banked $22,000 from her second stakes score of the season.

“She broke a little bit sluggish, but for her it was decent,” O’Dell said. “She ran down through there and turned on the afterburners from there.

"It wasn’t pretty but she got the job done," the trainer added. "She shows up every time. We’ll be looking at the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap next.”

Thermonuclear Energy has won nine of 23 starts and has earned $317,257. She ended her 4-year-old campaign with a clear 1 1/2-length victory in the 400-yard, $50,000 Las Damas Handicap (G3) on November 25.

Jess Mas finished third, one length behind Thermonuclear Energy, and was followed by Strawfinders Jessee, Kiddy Up Cowgirl, Tough To Figure, and Maggie Durant.

Other Stakes
Five other stakes were contested on Saturday.

Martha F. Wells' Red Hawk Cartel won the 350-yard, $25,000 Calfiornia Breeders' Freshman Stakes (R) for 2-year-olds; EG High Desert Farms' Diamonds Blue Eye won the 400-yard, $25,000 Jens L. List Jr. Memorial Calfiornia Breeders' Stakes (R) for 3-year-olds; John Firth's Hard Headed Chick won the 350-yard, $25,000 California Breeders' Debutante Stakes (R) for 3-year-old fillies; Oscar Andrade's and Steve Burns'  Uno Corona Mas won the 350-yard, $25,000 California Breeders' Sprint Stakes (R) for 3-year-olds and older; and Maria D. Gomez's Rockin Asteroid won the 550-yard, $20,000 California Breeders' 550 Stakes (R) for 3-year-olds and older.

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