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Spectacular Field Set for Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on Saturday

October 23, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

The Grade 1 $200,000 Los Alamitos Invitational Championship has been a good race for the ladies in recent years. Champion Apollitical Time won the 2006 running of this race and just last year Strength In Numbers posted a surprising victory. Three mares have been entered to run in this year’s event, a trio that features reigning champion aged mare Blazin Fire, the talented Look Her Over, and the hard-knocking Fly Bar Special. The trio will take part in what shapes up to be one of the strongest fields of older Quarter Horses assembled all year long in Saturday’s Los Alamitos Invitational Championship.

With combined earnings in excess of $4.1 million, this Grade I contest features a talented group, which already consists of nine stakes winners and two divisional champions. On Saturday night, one of these ten runners will try to etch his or her name into the record books alongside previous winners of this storied event such as A Ransom, Refrigerator, Dash For Cash, Corona Kool, and Catchmeinyourdreams. The winner of this race will earn a starting berth in this year’s $1 million Champion of Champions to be held on Saturday, December 13.

Leading the way in the prestigious Los Alamitos Invitational Championship is All American Futurity winner and millionaire No Secrets Here. Undoubtedly he enjoyed his best season as a two-year-old in 2006.

However, No Secrets Here has managed to maintain his razor-sharp form over the last two years as well, running three strong seconds against Grade I-competition in the Los Alamitos Super Derby in 2007 and the Los Alamitos Winter Championship. From seventeen total starts, he has finished in the top three a remarkable sixteen times, underscoring the consistency of this superstar runner.

He was an ultra-game runner-up in both of his last two starts, finishing second behind 2005’s Champion Two-year-old Gelding Jess You And I in an allowance contest and the Go Man Go Handicap. Despite having to settle for second in the Go Man Go in his most recent start, No Secrets Here ran a dynamite race that evening against Grade I competition, earning a sizzling-fast 99 speed index for the effort. He should also enjoy the added distance of tonight’s 440-yard race and will be ridden once again by his regular rider Cody Jensen.

Another dangerous contender could be Vessels Stallion Farm and Los Bustardos’ Little Bit Of Baja. Crowned Champion Three-year-old Gelding last season, he made a name for himself courtesy of a 32-to-1 shocker in the Grade I Los Alamitos Super Derby. Following that colossal upset, he then proved it wasn’t a fluke with a strong second in the Champion Of Champions in his very next start. Last time out he ran a quality third in the Go Man Go Handicap and will likely take a strong step forward in this event, as it is his second race since a lengthy nine-month layoff. He also gets a favorable post position switch from the one hole to the seven, which should flatter his late closing kick.

Sir Runaway Dash could also make some noise. Lightly started this season at the age of four, he was an impressive winner over allowance company on October 3rd, defeating solid competition like 2007 Rainbow Derby Winner Separate Bet. A full-brother to a pair of Champion Of Champions winners in Ocean Runaway and Wave Carver, Sir Runaway Dash hails from an extraordinary female family. He also brings plenty of back class into tonight’s affair, as he was only beaten a nose by World Champion Blues Girl Too in last year’s Grade I Golden State Derby.

Two other horses to consider are Blazin Fire and Ten Oclock Scholar. The connections of Blazin Fire have to be hoping that history repeats itself in this year’s renewal, as the last two winners of this race have been females.

If present trends continue, a solid candidate to follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Apollitical Time and 2007 champ Strength In Numbers appears to be Dan and Lisa McMahon’s six-year-old mare Blazin Fire.

She gained admission to this race after the defection of Jess You And I and Ketel Won. One of two alternates to be selected into the field of ten along with A Regal Choice Inc’s Fly Bar Special, Blazin Fire will try to spring an upset in this highly-contentious event. Although she has been favored in four of her last five attempts, she will have to face open-sex competition on Saturday for the first time in her last eight starts. However, she was crowned Champion Aged Mare in 2007 and has held her own remarkably well against open company in the past.

Ed Allred and Tom Seibly’s Ten Oclock Scholar could also rebound with a winning type of performance. Last time out, he was the post-time favorite in the Go Man Go Handicap but he lost all change after breaking out of the gate. However, if he can manage to duplicate his effort from the Spencer Childers Breeders’ Championship, then he has to be considered as one of the contenders. After breaking out and bumping at the start, this Dan Francisco-trainee muscled his way back into contention and flew home a neck in front of the field, earning a powerful speed figure of 97 for the effort.

He is also well drawn on the far outside and will be ridden for the first time tonight by jockey Alex Bautista.

Allred’s Look Her Over should love the 440-yard distance and her racing form is similar to that of Strength In Numbers. Like last year’s winner, Look Her Over has proven to be a hard-knocking runner with the potential to have a breakthrough performance on the big stage of the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. The connections of the aforementioned Jess You And I will be rooting for Vessels Maturity winner Frankie Shoots in this race because a victory by the Dashin Bye stallion will give Jess You And I a spot in the Champion of Champions. Value The Man, winner of the Pomona Championship, and multiple Grade 1 runner Dicey Dee complete the field.