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One Sweet Jess posts 400-yard track record in El Primero trials

March 19, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

One Sweet Jess sets a track record—400 yards in :19.113—in his trial race for the April 10, $240K El Primero Del Ano Derby
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
Story by Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Jose and Gustavo De La Torre’s One Sweet Jess ran one sweet race in trials to the $239,500 El Primero Del Ano Derby on March 18, as the winner of last year’s Golden State Million Futurity eclipsed World Champion Apollitical Jess’ track record at 400 yards after covering the distance in a great time of :19.113.

Trained by Ugo De La Torre and ridden by Santiago Mendez, One Sweet Jess bumped lightly with No Bad Habits after leaving the gate, but he quickly found his stride and accelerated to take the lead. The son of Mr Jess Perry turned on the rockets at about the 350-yard mark, as he flew away from his rivals en route to the fastest 400 yard time ever recorded at the Orange County oval. One Sweet Jess beat the second place finisher Rare Bac by 2¼ lengths while beating Apollitical Jess’ previous track record set in last year’s Los Alamitos Super Derby of :19.133 by 2/100ths of a second. One Sweet Jess’ final 220-yard time of :09.12 in this race is also the fastest ever record at Los Alamitos, bettering the :09.15 clocking posted by Apollitical Jess in his Super Derby trial last season.

“We can’t believe it,” said Gustavo De La Torre, one of the three brothers on Team Jess. “We are all surprised. We thought he would do okay, but a record? No way did we think that tonight. The wind helped us a little bit (there was a 14 MPH tailwind), but this was still an awesome performance.”

“He was still going strong tonight after he crossed the wire,” Ugo De La Torre added. “He wanted to go 440 yards. The tail wind was okay tonight, but the wind will not carry a horse home. This horse had a lot to do with this track record time.”

One Sweet Jess had given his connections a scare about two weeks ago when his trainer discovered increased heat in the horse’s hoof, a sign that can sometimes mean a developing abscess.

“It was minor, but we were concerned because it was One Sweet Jess,” Ugo said. “Coming into this race we did not push One Sweet Jess hard in training. We took it easy with him, but he is a very energetic horse so he started scratching the walls of his stall and started digging and eating the dirt in his stall. Once we noticed what was happening we started working to take care of his hot feet. We iced him and packed his feet with mud to keep them cold. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but we had to take it very seriously because he is One Sweet Jess.”

“Ugo and his boys worked on his feet for about four days and then things with him got back to normal. Dr. Ricky Overly kept a close eye on him and checked him regularly. We were nervous because we were ready to scratch him from this race if he wasn’t 100 percent, but Ricky gave us the okay to run him so we went for it.”

One Sweet Jess will now lead a field of speedsters that will see action in the richest running of the El Primero since champion Chingaderos won this race in 1986. The complete list of qualifiers to the April 10 final is as follows: One Sweet Jess (:19.113), Eddie Ray Vaughan (:19.406), Duke Kahanamoku (:19.436), Rare Back (:19.449), PK Fire (:19.491), Current Sea (:19.575), West Coast Hawk (:19.671), Macho Mexicano (:19.676), Loose Perry (:19.676) and Teller No Lies (:19.727).

This will be One Sweet Jess’ first stakes final since finishing fourth in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity back on December 10.

“We took him home after the Two Million,” Ugo De La Torre said. “He was eligible to run in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby, but we decided to skip those trials because we wanted to give him a nice break and then we wanted to bring him along slowly. We took him to Jose’s place in Norco and we walked him there just about every day. He had a nice round pen to go in and a pasture for him to enjoy. He had 10 starts last year so it was nice for him to enjoy some time off. “

“The El Primero is next and then we’ll send him to New Mexico to prepare for the Ruidoso, Rainbow, and All American derbies,” Gustavo De La Torre added. “Then he’ll be back here for the Los Alamitos Super Derby trials. We are going to do everything possible to take the right steps for One Sweet Jess. We are going to take each race one at a time because we want him ready for next year to start his breeding career.”

Muniz Quarter Horses LLC and Juan Aleman’s Duke Kahanamoku won the second trial in his first appearance since finishing seventh to One Sweet Jess in the Golden State Million Futurity last November. Duke Kahanamoku picked up his third win in four career starts.

“He got sick on us as a 2-year-old and we pretty much lost his entire freshman campaign because of it,” said Joe Muniz. “We were going to run him earlier this year, but he wasn’t feeling too good before his race. Juan called us to ask if he should scratch. I told him, ‘you own part of the horse as well, so you tell me what we should do.’ We went ahead and scratched him.”

Back and in top form, Duke Kahanamoku posted a 1¼-length win over 2010 Kindergarten Futurity winner West Coast Hawk. His winning time of :19.436 was the fastest in his career at 400 yards. In his two previous starts at that distance, he posted times of :19.64 and :19.75.

“Eduardo Nicasio said that he was holding him back in the final yards,” Aleman said. “He ran a great race tonight.”

Also racing for the De La Torre clan, Eddie Ray Vaughan won the third trial by 1¼ lengths over fellow finalist Current Sea. The lightly raced Eddie Ray Vaughan will be making only his fourth career start when he competes in next month’s El Primero. By contrast, Don and Peggy Boyle’s Current Sea has now qualified to four stakes races in his career. He previously appeared in last year’s John Deere California Juvenile Challenge, PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and this year’s Los Alamitos Winter Derby. He also faced Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity fastest qualifier More Than You Know in the Holiday Handicap on January 1.