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Talented field set for Z. Wayne Griffin Invitational on Sunday


November 15, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

Matabari returns from winning the 2013 Los Alamitos Super Derby on November 2, 2013
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Balgo Racing Team Inc. and Marlyn Gonzalez’s Matabari, the champion 3-year-old filly in 2013, headlines a talented field in Sunday’s (November 16) running of the $35,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Invitational at 400 yards. First post time is 5:00 p.m.

Matabari was named the top sophomore filly last year after a terrific season that included a win in the Grade 1 $953,000 Los Alamitos Super Derby and a third place finish in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions. In her career, the 2012 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity winner has won six of 11 starts and $1,336,930. She ranks in the top 40 all-time in money earned.

To be ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Guillermo Morales, Matabari will be making only her second outing of the year. The daughter of Mr Jess Perry finished a fast closing third in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Handicap in her season debut on September 28.

While Matabari has been lightly raced this year, Ed Allred’s Once Over has been a busy performer with three wins from nine outings. The gelding by Walk Thru Fire has been a stakes runner during this entire campaign and his record includes victories in the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap, the Pete Wood Handicap, and the Katella Handicap. He also ran third in the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity, fourth in the Grade 1 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, second in the Kaweah Bar Handicap, and was part of the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap. Trainer Scott Willoughby will saddle Once Over, who has earned nearly $160,000, who will be ridden by Antonio Alberto. Once Over will start from the outside post number seven.

Allred also owns the only 3-year-old in this field in Look Of A Dasher. The gelding by TR Dasher was fourth to Moonist, the nation’s top ranked Quarter Horse, in the Grade 1 Golden State Derby earlier this year. Look Of A Dasher has participated in a field high 11 races this season.

Bobby Cox’s The August Heat returns to Los Alamitos for the first time since running third in the Grade 1 Golden State Derby in August 2013. The son of Corona Cartel was second by a nose to Matabari in the 2012 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and has a history of doing well in top level races at the Orange County track.

So far this year, The August Heat has raced at Remington Park and Ruidoso Downs with his best result being a fifth place finish in the Higheasterjet Handicap. As usual, Jaime Gomez will saddle The August Heat at Los Alamitos. Gomez will also saddle in the Z. Wayne Griffin the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity runner-up Jess Being Valiant for owner Howard Nichols. Jess Being Valiant was part of the Los Alamitos Invitational field in his last start.

The Z. Wayne Griffin Invitational will also feature Lila Kessinger’s Seperate Interest, who finished a neck ahead of Once Over in the Kaweah Bar Handicap on May 3. Once Over did beat him in the Katella in late March. A runner with vast Grade 1 racing experience, Seperate Interest will be saddled by Mike Casselman. The field will be completed by Barbara B Handicap winner Dynasty Red, who finished ahead of Jess Being Valiant in their last encounter.