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Stars Clash in Vessels Maturity on Sunday


July 6, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

Javier Molina’s El Aguila Real will go after his second Grade 1 race of the year when he faces a strong cast of older horses in the $200,000 Vessels Maturity on Sunday, June 8, at Los Alamitos. The winner of the 400-yard stakes will earn a berth to the Grade 1 $750,000 Champion of Champions to be held in mid-December.

El Aguila Real already holds a berth to the Champion of Champions after winning the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on February 19. The only other horse with a berth to the Champion of Champions is the reigning World Champion Cold Cash 123, who earned his berth after winning the Remington Park Championship .

Trained by Francisco Vallejo, El Aguila Real has been the top horse of the grounds in 2012. Bred by Enrique Gonzalez, the gelded son of Corona Czech has won five of his last six starts. His only blemish during that streak is a second place finish to Charger Bar Handicap winner Dash Back Perry in a trial to the Winter Championship. Of course, he bounced back to win the Winter Championship by 3/4 lengths. He was just as good in the Vessels Maturity trial, as he led every step of the way while cruising to a 1/2 length victory in a time of :19.61. Eduardo Nicasio piloted El Aguila Real in that trial against a field that included multiple stakes winner Senor Toby and 2010 AQHA Champion 2-year-old filly Flying Fig.

Trainer Jaime Gomez will saddletwo outstanding contenders in the Vessels Maturity in the form of fastest qualifier PK Fire and the aforementioned Senor Toby. Racing for Alfonzo Pasquel, PK Fire was blazing quick in the trials, as he took a 1 1/2 length lead right off the bat before cruising to a 3/4 length victory. Never challenged in that race, PK Fire covered the distance in :19.51 while posting his most impressive victory since winning the El Primero Del Ano Derby last year. G.R. Carter will ride PK Fire in this race.

Gomez will also saddle Senor Toby for owners Brad Lohr and Daniel Reynoso. Senor Toby won all six of his starts in 2011 and began this year by scoring a victory in his trial to the Winter Championship. He’s finished second in his last two outings, both times against the red-hot El Aguila Real. Senor Toby has been close to El Aguila Real during the early going of those races before his rival has pulled away late. It reasons that Senor Toby needs to leave the gate better than ever in order to have the edge on El Aguila Real in this finale.

Daniel Reynoso will also be represented by Fire Is On in the Vessels Maturity, as the long time owner hopes to finally find his personal holy grail that is the Champion of Champions. Reynoso has twice seen his horses finish with the 11th spot in the 10-horse Champion of Champions field, in other words, on the outside looking in. Senor Toby was the 11th horse in last year’s road to the Champion of Champions while Fire Is On was the 11th in 2010.

Valentin Zamudio and Julio Encinas’s Frosty Younger could be the surprise package in this race. The Separatist gelding won his trial by a head and earlier this year he ran second in the Anaheim Handicap. He’ll also have the services of two-time AQHA Champion Jockey Ramon Sanchez. Jose and Gustavo De La Torre and San Gregorio Racing Stables, the owners of Ed Burke Million Futurity winner One Dashing Eagle, will also have horses in the Vessels finale. The De La Torres are represented by Reina Del Fuego and San Gregorio campaigns Flaiming Out. First Down Dash Handicap winner Buying Snow and the Grade 1 stakes placed runner Lifes Been Good will also race.