Jan. 24-25 Weekend Stakes Recap

A review of the non-graded stakes from this weekend.

Q-Racing Journal

Following is a recap of all official American Quarter Horse stakes for the weekend of January 24-25, listed by track. For recaps of graded stakes and Bank of America Racing Challenge events, see the individual race recap stories posted in the Previews and Recaps section. This recap page will be updated throughout the weekend.

Hialeah Park
The Ocean King, a gray 4-year-old son Corona Cartel out of Runaway Wave, broke sharply under jockey Shanley Jackson, gained the lead inside the final 100 yards and held off the charge of 5-2 post time favorite Mesa Marvel to win Sunday’s $27,250 City of Hialeah Stakes at 400 yards at Hialeah Park.

The winner, trained by Matt Frazier for the Ocean King Syndicate of breeder Dan Lucas, hit the wire a nose in front of the runner-up and stopped the timer in :19.555. Mesa Marvel finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Texelkas Chic. It was another length back to fourth-place runner Paint Candy Flying.

After the race, winning rider Jackson said, “I was hoping he’d get a good toe-hold out of the gate, he did, and I knew we had a big shot from there.”

Lucas, asked about sending the talented colt from Los Alamitos in California to Hialeah Park, commented, “I felt like he could do well here. He had some injuries to get through at Los Al, he’s over them now, and he’s really showing us what he can do. We’d like to give him one more race and maybe earn a spot in the Hialeah Invitational.”

Just two weeks ago, The Ocean King tallied the first stakes victory of his career when he won Hialeah Park’s $27,500 Signature Stakes at 300 yards. The Ocean King is a half brother to world champion Wave Carver and three-time champion Ocean Runaway.

The Ocean King earned the winner’s share of $16,350 for his City of Hialeah Stakes win, his fourth victory in his 12th career start, and upped his lifetime earnings to $57,350.

The official order of finish in the 2015 City of Hialeah Stakes was: The Ocean King, Mesa Marvel, Texelkas Chic, Paint Candy Flying, Nomomonkeybizness, Carters Disco, Dreamnwideopen and Cakebread And Thou.

Sunday’s other scheduled stakes race at Hialeah Park, the Tallahassee Stakes at 220 yards, was declared a “no contest” because of a starting gate malfunction. The race has been rescheduled for Monday February 2, and post positions for the eight horses that went to the gate will be drawn at entry time Monday, January 26.

Los Alamitos

Ron and Ronnie Keller’s Unchangeable added the flipping halter when starting from post number one and the result was a wire-to-wire victory at 23-1 odds against an impressive field in the $25,000 Cypress Handicap on Friday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Santiago Mendez for trainer Rafael Orozco of the Schvaneveldt Racing Stables, Unchangeable was in control of the 350-yard dash every step of the way while finished a half-length ahead of Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3) and Futurity (RG2) finalist Well And Good. The field that Unchangeable beat also included Grade 2 Charger Bar Handicap runner-up The Streakin Clean, Anaheim Handicap winner Fols Jesse and 2012 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) runner-up The August Heat.

“When Rafael and I looked at the list of nominations for this race it just looked so tough,” said Brenda Figueroa, the daughter of the legendary Blane Schvaneveldt and now the manager of the Schvaneveldt Racing Stables. “We still felt confident about (Unchangeable’s) chances because we’ve been working with him and we’ve known that he can run.”

The win was Unchangeable’s fourth in 12 career starts, but the effort was arguably his best since running second by a nose in the 2013 Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. But after a ninth-place finish in the A Ransom Handicap on December 20, Orozco and Figueroa decided that it was time for a change for Unchangeable.

“He would wash out and then wouldn’t pay attention in the gate,” she added. “He would get himself beat before the race even started. We’ve also been working a lot with this horse in the gate. He started from post one in the A Ransom, but we still liked drawing post one in this race. We liked either post one or the outside post, it didn’t matter as long as we didn’t have a horse on one side of him. He looked like his old self tonight. It’s exciting to see him run like he did tonight.”

The Stel Corona gelding covered the distance in :17.637, while earning $13,750. He’s lifetime bankroll is now $214,835.

Ed Allred’s Well And Good earned $5,625 for running second. Carlos Huerta piloted the Separatist gelding for trainer Scott Willoughby. Leonardo and Javier Olmos’ The Streakin Clean earned $3,125 for finishing third. Fols Jesse, Foose Is Loose, Deepintheheartotexas, Henoshersecret, and The August Heat completed the field.

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