Los Al's Kindergarten Futurity Has a Rich History
One of the sport's oldest stakes, the Kindergarten dates back to its inaugural running in 1955.
May 13, 2016
The Kindergarten Futurity has featured some special moments since Art Pollard’s Arizonan won its very first running in 1955.
Over the years, many legendary horses have won the Kindergarten at Los Alamitos, names like Jet Deck in 1962, Easy Date in 1974, Town Policy in 1977, First Down Dash in 1986, Corona Chick in 1991, Corona Cartel in 1996, and Hawkish in 2003. There are many reasons that this year's running on Sunday promises to be memorable, as the race has been renamed the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity in honor of one of Quarter Horse racing’s greatest jockeys.
Bobby Adair’s family and close friends - around 40 strong - will be on hand at the Orange County oval in honor and memory of the great jockey. The purse for the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten -- $428,400 -- is also strong, as it is the stakes' richest since 1987, when Runaway Winner won the race.
This year's field of 10 2-year-olds is also very strong, as it will include six Kindergarten trial winners headed by fastest qualifier One Proud Eagle, trained by John Cooper for owner Ron Hartley. Cooper, one of the all-time great trainers at Los Alamitos, and Adair enjoyed some history making nights together at Los Alamitos, none bigger than when they teamed up to win the 1979 Champion of Champions with longshot Mr Doty Bars.
Adair was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1999.
“Bobby was deathly sick; he had the flu really bad,” Cooper recalled. “He got out of bed to ride that one race. He won it and then went right straight home. They didn’t call him ‘The Master’ for nothing. He was a horseman.”
To be ridden by Tony Guymon, One Proud Eagle won his trial by 3/4 lengths while covering the 300 yards in :15.55 for Cooper. It’s a long ways from where the gelding by One Famous Eagle started out when he first began his training.
“He was an ugly duckling that turned into a swan,” Cooper said.
Cooper is also excited about the chances of Hartley’s Jess A Chick Magnet, which ran second to Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq in the trials.
“He’s getting better every time,” Cooper said. “He’s a gate horse. He stands well in the gate and when they say go, he’s gone.”
Hartley will be looking for his first major futurity score after winning derbies and top caliber races for older horses with the great Moonist.
“I don’t know who the best horse is this race, but I think we have a chance,” Hartley said. “Jess A Chick Magnet is smart gate horse and he can leave the gate, and that’s what wins Quarter Horse races. We’ll need luck, but hard work makes good luck and that’s what I attribute to Mr. Cooper”
Jaime Gomez will saddle Chazaq for Denny Boer and Dr. James Streelman of Dutch Masters III. The trainer will also saddle Katella Deli for Streelman and Paul Blanchard. Gomez will be looking for a record eighth Kindergarten win -- he's tied with Blane Schvaneveldt for the stakes record -- while Dutch Masters III is looking for a record fifth win as an owner. The racing operation is tied with Ivan Ashment with four.
Sired by Corona Cartel and out of Bobby Cox’s productive broodmare All About Ease, Chazaq won his trial by 3/4 lengths in a quick time of :15.59. Gomez knows exactly which horse is reminded of when he sees Chazaq.
“He’s like that other nice Corona Cartel baby I had last year, Docs Best Card,” Gomez said of the runner-up in last year’s Kindergarten and earner of more than $736,000. “Chazaq is a serious horse with a great mind. Alejandro Luna will ride him, and he never gets nervous. Those two make a good team.”
Chazaq also marks the returns of Denny Boer to the Dutch Masters III team.
“Denny is a great man and great for the business,” Gomez said. “It’s a joy to train for him again.”
“I’ve never been out of the horse game,” Boer said. “But it had been long enough since I had own a horse with Dr. Streelman. We won this race together four times, but we’ve never won it without one another. We’re back together and I’m really excited about that.
"We needed to get back together and it’s turned out that we’re back with, hopefully, a good one," Boer added. "When Doc (Streelman) called me about owning a horse, he didn’t have to twist my arm too hard. I love Jaime Gomez, and the three of us are like brothers. I just feel blessed to be back.”
Gomez will saddle Katella Deli, who’ll start from post nine with Martin Arriaga aboard, and also Ur My Princess for Valeriano Racing Stables, LLC, with Carlos Huerta up.
“Katella Deli is a solid horse, and I like his post position,” Gomez said. “He’s had no luck at the start of his races, but after the start he ran well in the trials. Martin is also the younger brother of (former jockey) Gregorio Arriaga.”
For Valeriano Racing Stables, Gomez will saddle a horse he bred by the name of Ur A Princess. The filly is a full sister to Fires Blazin, which ran in all three million dollar futurities in 2012 and was second in that year’s Ed Burke Million Futurity. For Valeriano, Gomez previously trained Jess Lips to a second place finish in the 2011 Golden State Million Futurity.
Talented runners in this year's Kindergarten field include Three Six On Fire V, which posted a terrific 1 1/2 length victory in the trials for Jose Ivan Muniz. Jose Flores, who’s won the Kindergarten four times, will saddle the Tres Seis gelding. Cruz Mendez will ride.
Jesus Nava’s Brimmin Corona, who was a shining star during morning works, posted a hard-fought nose win in the trials and returns as one to watch in the final for trainer Guillermo Morales. Rodolfo Arvizu will ride the Fantastic Corona Jr filly.
A horse with an impressive trial victory was Denny and Sandy Weigt’s Paint A Candy Storm, who posted a 3/4 length trial win on May 1.
“I was celebrating my birthday on that day,” said Weigt, 83. “A few years ago (trainer) Monty Arrossa had a horse for me named Illtacmanhattan, which won seven races in a row. Prior to a Beehive Futurity trial I told him jokingly that I wanted to win the trial and have the fastest time. Illtacmanhattan went on to do both just one day before my birthday that year.
"That was quite an early birthday present," Weigt added. "When these trials came up on May 1st I told Monty, ‘I don’t need the fastest time, but I would love to get in this race.’ ”
Arrossa and Paint A Candy Storm made Weigt’s birthday wish a reality after covering the 300 yards in :15.70 to equal the fifth fastest qualifying time.
Paint A Candy Storm is from the same family as last year’s All American Futurity winner and champion Jess Good Candy.
“I had a filly before from this family and did well,” Weigt said. “I saw a picture of this filly at the Heritage Place Sale and all I could say was ‘that’s a nice filly.’ We bought her right away. I’m 83, but these horses keep me going. I’m really fortunate to work with a great trainer like Monty.”
Paint A Candy Storm will return home to Jerome, Idaho, after the Kindergarten final and be pointed to run in the Bitterroot Futurity trials. Plans also call for her to run in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge trials and also Wild West Futurity trials at Los Alamitos later in the year.
The Kindergarten field will be completed by Cina and John Sperry’s Stelfast, runner-up in both of his career starts, and Rivera Quarter Horse Racing and Aislinn Vences’ Stel A Wish, which ran second to fastest qualifier One Proud Eagle. Paul Jones will saddle Stelfast, who’ll be ridden by Oscar Peinado, while Valentin Zamudio will saddle Stel A Wish, with Cesar DeAlba up.
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