SS Paydirt Tops Winter Derby Trials

The field is now set for the February 15 final.

Press Release

Owned and bred by Richard Frandsen, SS Paydirt enjoyed his fifth win in seven career starts while recording the fastest qualifying time to the Grade 1, $196,600 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

A total of 30 sophomores competed in the four trials at 400 yards with the horses with the 10 fastest times moving on to the Winter Derby final on Saturday, February 15. Ridden by AQHA Champion Jockey Cody Jensen, SS Paydirt put on a show in the third heat of the evening, as he posted an ultra-impressive 2 ¼-length victory from post number seven. Making his barn debut for trainer Trey Wood, SS Paydirt covered the distance in an impressive fastest time of :19.476. SS Paydirt’s bloodlines are familiar to local observers, as his mother also produced 2008 Southern California Derby (G1) finalist Decati.

“I own their mother,” Frandsen explained. “Her name is Mia Ta Fame and she ran well as a 2 and 3-year-old, but she had some problems. She bowed a tendon as a 3-year-old and we had to retire her. She went on to produce Decati, who made about a quarter of a million dollars, and now she’s given us SS Paydirt. She’s proved to be a good mare.”

Mia Ta Fame finished third in the 2002 Silver Dollar Futurity (RG2) and her final career start came in the 2003 Silver Dollar Derby (R). Frandsen bred her to Special Leader and the result was the talented Decati, the winner of the 2007 Bitterroot Futurity (RG2) and a third-place finisher in the 2008 All American Derby (G1). Decati earned $254,177 in his outstanding career. Sired by Carters Cartel, SS Paydirt is a standout as well. The Utah-bred gelding won the John Deere Les Bois Juvenile Challenge at Les Bois Park and crossed the wire first in the Bitterroot Futurity (RG3), but was disqualified and placed fourth because of interference.

“We’re having a ball with SS Paydirt,” said Frandsen of Roy, Utah. “He got disqualified in the Bitterroot, but crossed the wire first in each of his first five starts and the first three were by big margins just like tonight. Blaine Hadley did a great job with this horse. He developed him and what a fantastic job he did. There’s three weeks between the trials and the final and we just hope that he returns sound. We’ll be hoping for a good night from him in the final.”

As for future plans for Mia Ta Fame, Frandsen has an idea.

“We’re hoping to take her back to Carters Cartel,” he said.

Racing for AQHA Champion Owners Johnny Trotter and Burnett Ranches LLC and also trained by Trey Wood, Viva Mi Corazon enjoyed his fourth win in five starts at Los Alamitos Race Course following a very professional half-length victory in the second trial of the night. With Jensen in the irons, Viva Mi Corazon covered the distance in the second-fastest qualifying time of :19.528. The son of First Down Dash has now qualified to three major stakes races at Los Alamitos since arriving here from Ruidoso Downs last summer. He won the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) on October 5 and was second in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) on December 15. Bred by Bob and Jerry Gaston, Viva Mi Corazon will now be one of the leading contenders in the Winter Derby on Valentine’s Day weekend.

“He loves it at Los Alamitos,” said Wood’s assistant trainer, Paul Leal. “He’s settled here from day one. With some horses it takes a couple of days for them to settle after arriving. They may not eat for a day or so, but he’s been great from day one. Viva Mi Corazon was a little nervous tonight, which is not like him at all. But he had a nice race. He broke well and went to the front, but Cody did say that he had to get after him a little bit.”

“After the Two Million we x-rayed him up and down and he was as clean as a whistle,” Leal added. “He’s always had a lot of talent and he’s always been a big, big horse. He’s as big now as he was early in his 2-year-old year. He didn’t know how to run earlier in his career. It took him about five races to learn. He had a little bad luck at the start of his career, but he now knows what to do.”

Jesus Garera Garcia’s Mr Its Country Time held off PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Dynasty Of Habits to win the opening derby trial by a half-length while breaking his maiden in his sixth career start. Ridden by Raul Valenzuela, the son of Country Chicks Man covered the distance in :19.547 to post the third fastest qualifying time.

“He was a maiden coming into this race, but he had been running great,” trainer Juan Aleman said. “He finished third in the consolation to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity with a heck of a race. He didn’t have that many outs last year (five starts) and since we gelded him (after his racing debut on May 4) he’s been getting better and better with each start. I hope he has a nice season as a 3-year-old.”

Grant Farms bred Mr Its Country Time.

Ron Hartley’s Moonist won the fourth and final trial by a neck and in the ninth-fastest time of :19.846. A Separatist gelding out of the champion Your First Moon, Moonist won the aforementioned consolation stakes to the Two Million (the Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational) and also the Golden State Juvenile Invitational. He was also second in the Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) and now will be part of the field in the Winter Derby. John Cooper saddled the Vessels Stallion Farm LLC-bred runner, who was ridden to victory by Cesar De Alba.

“Cesar said that the horse had a lot left in the tank,” Hartley said. “I just hope that he is right. He’ll need to be faster in the final. Cesar felt that the horse was looking to see competition. He was by himself on the inside and needed something to run with during the race.”

The complete list of qualifiers to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby is as follows: SS Paydirt (:19.476), Viva Mi Corazon (:19.528), Mr Its Country Time (:19.547), Dynasty Of Habits (:19.612), Spirit Leader (:19.629), Moven Lannie (:19.778), Ms Perry (:19.808), Chalalita (:19.829), Moonist (:19.846), Energized (:19.878).

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