Heza Dasha Fire is Morning-Line Choice in 45th Champion of Champions
The 2015 world champion headlines Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 feature at Los Alamitos.
December 13, 2017
S-Quarter K LLC's Heza Dasha Fire, the 2015 world champion, is the even-money morning-line favorite for Saturday's 440-yard, $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.
Trained by Jose Flores, Heza Dasha Fire is a homebred 5-year-old son of Walk Thru Fire. The gelding has won his last two starts, the 400-yard, $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap (G1) on September 3, and the 440-yard, $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (G1) on October 15.
Heza Dasha Fire has raced exclusively at Los Alamitos and has earned $2,047,987 from 20 starts. His eight Grade 1 victories include a wire-to-wire, 1 1/4-length score in the 2015 Champion of Champions.
“It has been a while since he's run,” Flores said. “I’m not worried about it. I feel that the fresher he gets the faster he runs. Dr. Rick Overly and his entire veterinarian team has done a great job with him. They’re taking care of him, making sure his blood work is always good. I think he’s back to being the same horse we’ve had. He showed me in the last race that he can go the distance.”
Heza Dasha Fire drew post 4 and will be ridden by Cruz Mendez. Flores will also send out Mr PYC To You, a 4-year-old PYC Paint Your Wagon stallion he races with Ron and Denise Van Amburgh.
“I remember when I was a kid I used to come out here to see Gold Coast Express, First Down Dash,” Flores said. “I used to tell my dad that someday I was going to win this race, the Champion of Champions. It happened once already and it would be a dream to see it happen again.
"I have the right horse to do it with again," the trainer added. "My other horse, Mr PYC To You, is a fighter. He has a good post (10), and hopefully he can be right there and make a run for it."
Mr PYC To You has earned $48,076 from nine races this season, and he landed his Champion of Champions berth in the first division of the 400-yard Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on November 19.
“Mr Pyc To You has been in training the whole time," said Flores. "I almost ran him in the handicap race (First Down Dash Handicap last Saturday), but it was too close to the Champion of Champions. I just said, ‘I’m paying him to the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, so let’s just wait.’
"We got him freshened up and we said, ‘Who knows, maybe something happens and we get into the Champion of Champions’ and we did," he added. "The Van Amburghs are very happy. They’re great people and great partners to have.”
Another contender, BH Lisas Boy, is a homebred 5-year-old Mighty Invictus gelding owned and trained by Bill Hoburg. BH Lisas Boy earned his berth with his half-length victory as the 13-10 favorite in the February 15, $151,000 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1). After his half-length win in the 400-yard, $163,000 Vessels Maturity (G1) on July 2, BH Lisas Boy underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his knee.
The 2-1 morning-line second choice, BH Lisas Boy drew post 9 and will be ridden by Cesar DeAlba.
“He’s been very fortunate in the last two major races to draw towards the outside and run some really nice races,” Hoburg said. “I wanted to be on the outside so we didn’t get hung up in traffic. There’s less traffic. You get 10 horses that have all earned a berth for a race like this, you are not going to clear the field (at the start). There’s horses that are going to be running like a cavalry charge and being on the outside gives you a little less chance of bumping or scrubbing.
"Every time that you scrub a horse or bump a horse it costs your horse maybe 1/100ths of a second or maybe 1/1000th of a second," he added. "This race will be won by inches or lost by inches. Anything that you can do to not inhibit your horse will get you a step or two ahead on the racetrack.”
The estimated post time for the Champion of Champions, Quarter Horse racing's richest and most prestigious race for older horses, will be 9:16 p.m. (PST). The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments and morning-line odds:
He Looks Hot (Cesar Gomez), 15-1
The Fiscal Cliff (Benito Baca), 8-1
Chazaq (Cody Jensen), 10-1
Heza Dasha Fire (Cruz Mendez), Even
Da One Two Special (Jose M. Nicasio), 15-1
Jess Good Reason (Oscar M. Peinado), 15-1
Zoomin For Spuds (Jesus Rios Ayala), 20-1
Time For Jess (Eduardo Nicasio), 30-1
BH Lisas Boy (Cesar DeAlba), 2-1
Mr PYC To You (Carlos Huerta), 50-1
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