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Blazin Fire, Clydette Mia Headline Mildred Vessels Handicap on Saturday

September 19, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

It’s round two of the brooding rivalry between reigning champion aged mare Blazin Fire and rising star Clydette Mia when two square off in the $250,000 Mildred Vessels Handicap at 400 yards on Saturday at Los Alamitos. Aside from the lucrative purse that the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels boasts, it also carries a berth to the prestigious Champion of Champions in December, the top race in the country for older horses.

Most horseplayers would probably point to Dan and Lisa McMahon’s Blazin Fire as the horse to beat on Saturday night. From only six starts last season, she made four trips to the winner’s circle, including one after a hard-fought neck victory in last year’s Grade I Challenge Distaff Championship. She also captured the Grade III California Distaff Challenge in August and blew away the competition in the Grade II Las Damas Handicap on the way to Champion Aged Mare honors in 2007.

Already proven time and time again against older horses, Blazin Fire carries a valuable edge in experience over her rivals in this race. She was a finalist in the Champion of Champions in 2006, racing against some of the finest older horses in the country. In her most recent performance, Blazin Fire rallied late to score a gritty head-decision over Dimples First Dash in the Grade III California Distaff Challenge despite being fractious in the gates prior to the start. She is also well drawn for Saturday night’s event and has been ultra-consistent racking up 22 in-the-money finishes throughout her 31-race career.

EG High Desert Farms’ Clydette Mia is likely to command a lot of attention as well. She enters the race in razor-sharp form, fresh off of an impressive five-race win streak. Two starts back, Clydette Mia defeated a strong field in the Grade III Miss Princess Handicap, outrunning two horses who are also entered in tonight’s event in Grade II winner Fly Bar Special and the talented Dimples First Dash.

Her best effort to date came in early July when she turned in a dazzling two-length tour de force victory in the Easy Date Handicap. Among those left in her wake were Champion Blazin Fire and multiple-stakes-winner Go Girl Gone. She also received an outstanding speed figure for that race as well, equaling the track record for 300 yards here at Los Alamitos. She enters this race in the best form of her life and should be highly competitive if she can translate her proven ability at the shorter distances to tonight’s 400-yard event.

Although older horses typically have an advantage in experience when competing in races such as this one, two highly talented three-year-olds saw fit to enter in tonight’s Mildred Vessels Handicap. The first of these two is Benny Rosset’s Sylish Jess Br. She has looked fantastic in her only two outs so far this year, turning in a pair of second-place finishes behind the hottest horse on the grounds here at Los Alamitos in One Famous Eagle. She also brings valuable Grade I seasoning into this evening’s affair and has never been worse than third through nine career starts.

The other gifted sophomore that will be taking on older company for the first time is Ed Allred’s Forgive Him. She flashed talent last year as a juvenile, but has really shown dramatic improvement this year as a three-year-old. Three races back, she defeated Short Czech, who returned to run second in this year’s Grade I Governor’s Cup Derby in July. In her last two starts, she has been even more impressive, taking the Grade I La Primera Del Ano Derby by three-quarters of a length and scoring a runaway victory in July’s California Breeders’ Debutante Stakes.

“I’m delighted to have a horse that the Joiner camp believes is up to the task of taking on older horses,” Dr. Allred commented. “It’s also an honor for it to have come in this race in particular. The whole Vessels family has been so important for Quarter Horse racing over the years and Millie Vessels, in particular, did so much for this sport.”

Another dangerous contender could be the Roberto Ramirez-trained What A Performance. This talented six-year-old has knocked heads with Blazin Fire on seven instances in the past, having gotten the better of the two on two separate occasions. What A Performance’s best effort to date came when she won last year’s Grade I Charger Bar Handicap in early January. Following her successful campaign in 2007, which included five starts against graded-stakes competition, she enjoyed a lengthy eight-month vacation from the races. Her only start so far this meet came on August 7th, when she was a close third behind allowance company. She has tons of past class and could move forward in this race, her second since a long layoff.

Finally, two other talented distaffers hoping to pull off a shocker are Fly Bar Special and Look Her Over. Already a two-time Grade I-finalist this season at Los Alamitos, Fly Bar Special is currently enjoying her best year to date. Last time out, she won the Grade II California Breeders’ Matron Stakes while in hand by jockey Rodrigo Aceves. The Scott Willoughby-trained Look Her Over also has a chance. She was third in the Matron Stakes in her last start, but was fractious in the gates prior to the break.

Additionally, she had been off for over eight months entering that race and had been working smartly in preparation for her return. She could be a factor as well if she returns to the strong form she demonstrated last year, when qualifying to three graded stakes races.