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One Famous Eagle to Head Richest Ever Derby at Los Alamitos

October 18, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

2-to-5 favorite One Famous Eagle hits the wire a half-length in front of Daddy Dasher to set the fastest time from four trials to the Los Alamitos Super Derby
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

After posing for the winning snapshot right after the first of four star-studded trials to the $933,750 Los Alamitos Super Derby, trainer John Bassett was sounding like a zoo warden with all his talk about wolves, bears and cats.

“You put over $900,000 on the line and all the wolves are going to come out for it,” he began. “Take a look at these trials, these are the baddest cats in L.A. Just look at our trial, there were some bears in there.”

It’s a good thing that Bassett had a famous predator on his side in the form of the high flying One Famous Eagle, the impressive Golden State Derby winner. Ridden by Saul Ramirez for owners Johnny Trotter and Burnett Ranches, One Famous Eagle extended his winning streak to six in a row, a string that dates back to the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The son of Mr Jess Perry came back to win the $2 million final by a head before making his sophomore debut with a one and a half length victory in an allowance race on July 25. Sensational wins in a trial and then the final to the Golden State Derby on August 30 set him in line for his winning effort in the Super Derby trial.

“Six weeks is a long time to be away from the track when you have a horse in peak form,” Bassett said. “When a horse is at his best you want to run him about once a month. We put a stout work on him before these trials but you still worry a little bit. The time off was a concern for us, but we should be right on target for the final now that he’s got this race under his belt.”

One Famous Eagle broke hard from post one and found himself in a battle with Daddy Dasher right away after the Ed Allred-owned horse left the gate sharply from post four. Daddy Dasher looked poised for the upset about 150 yards into the 400-yard trial, but then One Famous Eagle kicked it into higher gear, covering the final 220 yards in an outstanding :09.35, and the race in the fastest qualifying time of :19.46. The Trotter-bred colt defeated Daddy Dasher by a half length.

“Saul said that once One Famous Eagle spotted Daddy Dasher, he started to pull away,” Bassett added. “I was pleased with the way (One Famous Eagle) left the gate. It was the first time that he had drawn an inside post since early in his 2-year-old year. I thought he handled it well. Saul also said that he shied away when he saw the bright toteboard, but that he got over it pretty fast. Now we’ve got to do it one more time.”

Trained by Scott Willoughby and ridden by Jeff Jerman, Daddy Dasher was outstanding in finishing second, as he was ahead of horses like Governor ’s Cup Derby runner-up Short Czech, who finished third, plus the likes of multiple Grade 1 finalist My Buddy, Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes winner Tailgunner Tom, Rainbow and Ruidoso derby runner-up Strong Hope. Daddy Dasher was returning to the track for the first time since finishing fifth a trial to the Golden State on August 16.

“I thought he ran a great race and came back well,” Willoughby said.
“He’s been off for about 60 days. He got a little sick on us after his last race but he looked like his old self tonight.”

Daddy Dasher, second in last year’s Kindergarten and first in this year’s Dillingham Handicap, covered the distance in :19.53, while EG High Desert Farms’ Short Czech crossed the finish line in :19.56. Both of them qualified to the super rich finale.

Headed by One Famous Eagle, the top 10 qualifiers in the trials will return to race in the richest derby ever contested at Los Alamitos on Sunday, November 9. Many will remember that last year’s Super Derby final, won by champion gelding Little Bit Of Baja, featured a blanket finish between the first five horses, and with the top six qualifiers this years being separated by only 3/100ths of a second, perhaps another exciting photo finish is in store.

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows; One Famous Eagle (:19.46), Magic Show Czech (:19.47), My Lady First (:19.48), Stylish Jess Br (:19.49), Fighter On Fire (:19.49), A Mere Chocolate (:19.49), Daddy Dasher (:19.53), Short Czech (:19.56), Eye For Corona (:19.56) and Answer The Dream (:19.57). The winner will earn $381,255 plus a berth to the $1 million Champion of Champions to be held here on December 13.

The final field also boasts the following statistics: the 10 finalists have combined for career earnings of $3,872,662, plus of their 121 total starts, only six have come outside of Los Alamitos. Answer The Dream accounts for five of those out-of-Los Alamitos starts, with Stylish Jess Br’s All American Futurity trial effort last year being the only other race away from the Big Apple of Quarter Horse racing by a horse in the Super Derby field. The Super Derby finalists have won 46 of their combined 121 starts.

Trainer Felipe Quintero enjoyed the best night of his brief training career, as he saddled the winners of the other three derby heats. Quintero sent Rancho El Alacran’s well known duo of Fighter On Fire and My Lady First to impressive victories and also EG High Desert Farms’ experience stakes runner Magic Show Czech to a head victory over Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap winner Stylish Jess Br.

“The one word to describe tonight would be ‘perfect’,” said Quintero. “I was able to qualify four horses to the final and that’s unbelievable. The four horses that got in (Fighter On Fire, My Lady First, Magic Show Czech and Short Czech) are all very good horses, but it is still amazing to see them all get in the final.”

With Carlos Huerta aboard, Magic Show Czech ran one of the best races of his remarkably consistent career, as he posted the second fastest qualifying time of :19.47. A gelded son of Corona Czech, Magic Show Czech has now qualified to six grade 1 or restricted grade 1 races in his career.

The winner of the 2007 Governor’s Cup Futurity, Magic Show Czech’s resume also includes a second in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and a third to One Famous Eagle in last year’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

“I was worried about facing Stylish Jess Br because she looked great in the Mildred Vessels,” Quintero added. “But I had faith in Magic Show Czech because he had been training so well and he had put on a lot of weight in the last few weeks before this race.”

“(Stylish Jess Br) broke really fast but we were there with her the whole way,” Huerta said. “I think Magic Show Czech can still improve off of that effort.”

Rancho El Alacran’s Fighter On Fire looked outstanding in winning the second trial by of a length over Governor’s Cup Derby winner Really A First.
Fighter On Fire improved his career record to seven wins from 17 career starts, which makes him the co-leader in wins and the leader in starts from among the horses that qualified to the Super Derby on November 9. Fighter On Fire’s stablemate My Lady First also has seven career victories from her 15 starts. Both horses were sired by all-time leading stallion First Down Dash.

“Tonight I saw a much better effort from Fighter On Fire,” said Joaquin Vega of Rancho El Alacran. “He’s over a foot infection that was bothering according to the reports that our trainers gave us. He looked great. He was more relaxed in the paddock and had a great temperament, which were very positive signs because in his most recent races he had looked nervous. When we saw how well he left the gate I was pleased because traditionally he has been a good finisher. He broke well, he finished strong and he didn’t appear to be tired when he returned.

“(Fighter On Fire’s) future is in the breeding shed,” Vega added. “We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do as far as that’s concerned. We’ll probably stand him in the United States. We’ve had some interest in him as a stallion but the horse will tell us what in his future in terms of how his babies look like and what type of a demand there is for him out here as a stallion.”

Rancho El Alacran did get a scare right before the start of the final trial when their usually reliable trial star My Lady First broke through the gate and nearly ran loose. It took a terrific job from the assistant starter to keep My Lady First from running down the racing strip.

“She heard a noise and that’s when she took off and hit the front of the gate,” said jockey Rodrigo Aceves. “I fell off and it was the handler that got a hold of her. He saved the race for us and gave her the opportunity to qualify to the final. He deserves all the credit. After what happened in the gate I was expecting a bad race from her. I was wrong. She ran one of the best races of her life.

As she ran the final 220 in :09.48, My Lady First covered the opening 180 yards in 10 seconds flat. As a comparison, One Famous Eagle ran the opening 180 yards in :10.11. This was My Lady First’s fifth straight win in a stakes trial. Her best efforts in finals are third place finishes in both the La Primera Del Ano Derby and Los Alamitos Winter Derby.

“We operated on her knees after the La Primera (on April 12),” Vega added. “We then worked her right next to Fighter On Fire on September 23 and she was right there with him (both horses worked 350 yards in :17.70). We’re excited about both of them.”