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John Deere California and Zoetis California top marquee on Saturday

August 22, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

California’s representatives to the John Deere Juvenile Challenge and the Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge will be determined on Saturday night when regional finals to these races are contested at Los Alamtos. The winners will move on to compete in the Challenge finals at Prairie Meadows in Iowa on October 18. First post time at Los Alamitos on Saturday is 7:10 p.m.

A strong field of nine runners will be in action in the $35,190 John Deere California regional, which is scheduled as the last of nine races on the card. Jim Nebeker’s Flying Foose, who posted the fastest qualifying time to this race back on August 9, will lead the field after covering the 350 yards on trial night in a time of :17.53. With Eduardo Nicasio in the irons for trainer Paul Jones, Flying Foose’s time enjoyed his second victory and his fifth in the money finish of his six-race career.

“He's really starting to put it all together," Jones said. "He was a little green at first and didn't want to load in the gate. He was like a little kid out there. He now has racing experience and is acting a lot more professional."

Purchased at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale, Flying Foose previously recorded a third place finish in the California Breeders Freshman Stakes and was also a 1¼-length winner on July 5.

Owned by Pirate Stables and Colten and Wendy O’Dell and trained by Wendy O’Dell, First Down Tiny Man was outstanding in breaking his maiden on trial night in what was only his second career start. The Tennessee-bred son of Tiny First Corona posted the third fastest qualifying time while competing in a heat that produced six of the nine runners in the final. Carlos Huerta will ride First Down Tiny Man.

First Down Tiny Man posted an impressive half-length victory in a time of :17.602. He finished sixth in his only other career outing.

"He was a little green in his first start," O'Dell said. "I entered him to run again about a month ago and he drew post number one. I decided to school him in the gate and he flipped bad.”

O’Dell scratched First Down Tiny Man out of that race, gave him some time off, and then brought him back for this event.

“He (drew) the one-hole again. He handled it nicely. Second out and third fastest time, I'm pretty happy with the result. I've always done well with horses by Tinys First Corona. I went to Oklahoma and picked First Down Tiny Man out of the sale there for me. He's a family horse. I train Thoroughbreds for Pirate Stables and they also own a part of this horse for the fun of it."

Dee and Gary Hoovestal’s Dunk Two Politicians cruised to a 1¼-length trial victory on August 9 and will now be looking for her third straight win. To be ridden by Saul Ramirez, Jr., for trainer Bret Vickery, the homebred Montana-bred filly led by daylight every step of the way in her trial event.

RTM Stables and George Weldon’s Ynot Walk finished second to First Down Tiny Man in the trials and had the fourth fastest qualifying time of :17.70. Sired by Walk Thru Fire, Ynot Walk is also a graduate of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. His mother, Ynot Bar, ran second in the Governor’s Cup Futurity and was a finalist to the Los Alamitos Million Futurity. Ryan Hanson trains Ynot Walk, who’ll be ridden by Guillermo Suarez.

Moonshine Racing’s Juicy Walk, another Los Alamitos Equine Sale, was third to First Down Tiny Man in the trials and could be the surprise package in this event. Bred by La Presita LLC, Juicy Walk is from the family of World Champion Blues Girl Too and Grade 1 winner Blues Man Too.

Tiny Dasha Corona, Cartels Fire, Koolist, and Keepyourshirton will complete the field. Panama Wes, who was the second fastest qualifier on trial night, was not entered back because of a minor setback. He’s expected to race again later this year according to trainer Jose Flores.

In the $16,650 Zoetis California Starter Allowance, Emilio Quinonez and Lorenzo Ruiz’s Stel Heights is the one to watch. The Stel Corona gelding faced multiple stakes winner Once Over and Bank of America California Challenge winner New Look in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap. Stel Heights did well in that event, finishing fifth in the eight horse field. He’s also posted victories against $10,000 and $16,000 claimers this season. Cesar De Alba will pilot Stel Heights for Ruiz, who trains the winner of six races.

Martha Wells’ Hez Stellar has to be considered at the top of the list of contenders after scoring a claiming stakes victory at 400 yards on California Champions Night. Hez Stellar broke sharply with jockey Ramon Sanchez aboard before taking the lead for good when scoring a neck victory. Paul Jones will saddle.

Jose C. De La Torre’s Too Cool To Rule will be a strong contender in her second outing since arriving here from Arizona. The mare was claimed for $5,000 by her new connections after posting a 3/4 length win in her local debut on June 27. Heliodoro Robles’ Hawktaflyer should also contend after winning three of her last five starts. She looked great when beating $5,000 claimers on April 27.

Rosenthal Ranch’s Hesmore To Check was on the right end of a photo finish when defeating $6,250 claimers three races ago and was third against $8,000 claimers two races back. He’ll be going after his third win in eight career starts in the Zoetis. Lotsa Boots, a 7-year-old Colorado-bred, will complete the field.