Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials Draw 14 Entries

Five Champion of Champions berths will be on the line Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Q-Racing Journal

Steve Burns' Little Talks, pictured here winning this year's PCQHRA Breeders' Derby, is one of 14 horses entered in Sunday's Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials at Los Alamitos. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Grade 1 winners Far Niente and Little Talks are among the 14 sprinters entered in Sunday's 400-yard, $15,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials at Los Alamitos.

There will be two trials run and five Champion of Champions (G1) berths on the line on Sunday. The 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions -- American Quarter Horse racing's richest and most prestigious race for older horses -- will be run on December 10. Th five finalists from Sunday will join reigning world champion and defending Champion of Champions winner Heza Dasha Fire, Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) winner Ajs High, Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) winner Sass Me Blue, Vessels Maturity (G1) winner He Looks Hot and Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) winner Big Lew.

A daughter of Favorite Cartel trained by Mike Casselman for owner Steve Burns of Menifee, California, Little Talks is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the second trial. The homebred filly has earned $541,772 from 12 outs, and her seven wins include this year's PCQHRA Breeders' Derby (G3) and last year's Golden State Million Futurity (G1).

Little Talks drew post 6 and will be ridden by Cesar DeAlba. Far Niente also drew into the second heat and will be ridden by Ramon Sanchez for owners Tom Atwood and John J. Wells. The 6-year-old Fdd Dynasty gelding will be making his first start since July 2, when he ran second in the Independence Day Handicap.

“We wanted to run him before (Sunday), but a minor issue came up so we decided to wait until the trials,” said Jose Hernandez Jr., Far Niente's trainer. "He was going to have to face Heza Dasha Fire and BH Lisas Boy in the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, and it’s tough enough to beat those type of horses when your horse is at 100 percent; it's almost impossible if your horse has an issue. It would be great to see him qualify to the Champion of Champions for the third year in a row.”

Rite Regal will also race in the second trial. A gelded son of Favorite Cartel, the sophomore is trained by Jose Flores for owner Urschel 3-D Ranch LLC, and he is coming off of a second-place finish as the fastest qualifier in the November 6, 400-yard Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1).

“He came back great after the Super Derby,” said Flores. “He’s not in the Southern California Derby trials so that’s why we decided to take a look at this race.”

Jim Walker's Zoomin For Spuds, a homebred 3-year-old Zoomin For Bux gelding trained by Monty Arrossa, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first trial. Zoomin For Spuds has won five stakes at Los Alamitos. The gelding will be ridden by Cruz Mendez from the rail post.

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