Heza Dasha Fire Returns to Races on Sunday
The reigning world champion will make his 4-year-old debut in Sunday's 400-yard Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials.
January 22, 2016
Reigning world champion Heza Dasha Fire will be wasting little time defending his title, as the homebred 4-year-old gelding is one of 13 aged sprinters entered in Sunday's 400-yard Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) trials.
Trained by Jose Flores for Don and Kathy Meneely's S Quarter-K LLC of Kennewick, Washington, Heza Dasha Fire drew the rail post and will be ridden by Cruz Mendez in the first of two trials. The gelding will be putting a five-race win streak on the line while making his first start since December 12, when he scored a 1 1/4-length victory in the 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions.
Heza Dasha Fire's season debut will come just four days after he was named world champion during a ceremony Wednesday night at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City.
"It was pretty fantastic," said Kathy Meneely. "Our jaw just dropped when he was named world champion. It was a night of great surprises; our 2-year-old gelding Ima Fearless Hero also won that division title. That was a great surprise."
S Quarter-K LLC was also named the sport's champion breeder. The Meneelys also own Dasha Freda, the dam of both Heza Dasha Fire and Ima Fearless Hero.
"The breeder award was amazing," Kathy Meneely said. "When I heard our name, I was absolutely flabbergasted. We are small breeders. We only have two broodmares and two racehorses. This award is for the little breeders all over the country. It shows that it can be done and it can happen to them as well.
"You need to have a lot of luck, but luck is out there," she added. "It can happen. The awards night was fabulous -- it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
According to Flores, Heza Dasha Fire is expected to make about six starts this season.
"That's about the number of races he's had in each of his racing years," said the trainer. "He does well with that number of races. We thought about giving him a break right after the Champion of Champions, but we figured that it was better to run him now since he's fit and has been doing great.
"He did have a little bit of a sore heel prior to the Champion of Champions, but he came out of that race feeling great," Flores added. "His fitness is great right now."
Heza Dasha Fire is the 2-5 morning-line favorite in the first Winter Championship trial. His six opponents include Ron Hartley's Moonist, a 5-year-old son of Separatist trained by John Cooper. The reigning champion aged gelding and 2014 champion 3-year-old, Moonist won three Grade 1 stakes last season and ran second to Heza Dasha Fire in the Champion of Champions.
The 10 fastest qualifiers will meet in the $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship final on February 14.
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