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Champions shine in Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials


January 26, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

Moonist sets the fastest time—400 yards in :19.745—from three trials on January 25 to the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, scheduled for February 15.
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Newly named AQHA champions Moonist and Jake Gold Br ran like champions on the way to scoring impressive victories in their respective trials to the Grade 1 $169,800 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on January 25.

Owned by Ron and Jeryl Hartley, Moonist won his ninth consecutive start after cruising to an easy ¾-length win in the third and final trial of the evening. Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer John Cooper, the Separatist gelding also posted the fastest qualifying time after covering the 400 yards in : . Moonist was making his return to action after recovering from a bruised foot suffered prior to the trials to the Southern California Derby on November 30. Moonist was subsequently scratched out of those trials, ending what had been a remarkable 2014 campaign.

Bred by Vessels Stallion Farm, Moonist won nine of 10 starts last year, while becoming the first horse to win four derbies during a single season at Los Alamitos. His accomplishments, which included wins in the Grade 1 Golden State Derby, Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby, Restricted Grade 3 Governor’s Cup Derby, and the PCQHRA Breeders Derby. Moonist was named the 2014 AQHA champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding.

“He’s a champion,” Hartley said. “We didn’t get the World Champion, but we’re going to go for it this year. Moonist is an awesome horse. He provided us with an unbelievable experience last year. He’s now won 14 races here and not many horses can win that many races at Los Alamitos. It’s been quite a ride. Tonight, he got in the gate and he just stood there and looked down the track.”

Cooper admitted that he was a little nervous about Moonist’s return appearance.

“I knew the horse was right because he would not have raced if he wasn’t right, but I was still nervous. You never know if (the bruise) would flare up or something like that. We got the foot healed up and then we started tracking him every day. We didn’t put any weight on him. We ponied him until we started working with him in the gate and gave him a qualifying work (on January 7). He’s a tough horse.”

“He is an awesome horse,” De Alba added. “He was all business. He was ready to run.”

Moonist has won 14 of 21 starts and has now earned $463,218 in his career.

Clodoaldo De Oliveria Miranda’s Jake Gold Br was named the International Champion after winning the Bank of America South American Championship in Brazil and the $60,000 Christmas Invitational at Los Alamitos. Trained by Paul Jones, Jake Gold Br has now won his last three starts after losing his first two races in the United States.

“He’s gotten really good and become a tough horse to beat,” Jones said. “Horses run in racing lanes in Brazil so when horses come here they have to learn to run without the lanes. They might get bumped here during the race. That’s just one of the things that these horses have to get used to. The feeding is a little different, the training is different, the racing surface is different, plus the trip from Brazil to the United States can take a lot out of a horse. They also have to go to quarantine for a long time. It takes time for these horses to acclimate. It took him a while to acclimate to the United States, but he’s doing great now.”

With De Alba aboard, Jake Gold Br won his trial by a half-length over Hector Hernandez’s Southern California Derby runner-up Tres Pescado in the opening trial. Jake Gold Br covered the distance in :19.910, which gave the third fastest time of the night.

“He’s so quick and he just keeps getting better and better,” De Alba said. “He stumbled a little bit at the start, but he got going pretty quickly after that. I hit him two to three times and he just took off. I talked to (Brazilian horsemen) and I might go ride there in March. The Quarter Horse racing program is Brazil is always improving so it would very exciting to have the opportunity to ride there.”

Atwood Ranches, Inc. and Vessels Stallion Farm LLC’s Far Niente ran second to Moonist, but his time of :19.881 earned him the second fastest clocking of the night. The winner of the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity last year, Far Niente came into this race after running seventh in the Christmas Invitational. Carlos Huerta piloted the FDD Dynasty gelding for trainer Jose Hernandez.

Michael and Donald Pohl’s Wagon Tales won the remaining trial by a neck over 2013 champion 3-year-old filly Matabari. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez and saddled by Paul Jones, Wagon Tales has won both of his career starts at Los Alamitos. He came into this race after winning the A Ransom Handicap on December 20.

“Wagon Tales has always been a good horse,” Jones said. “He finished third in the All American Futurity and was one of the favorites to win it that year. He has been a Grade 1 runner all along and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to train this horse.”

Bred by The Mixer Ranch, Wagon Tales finished with the fourth fastest qualifying time of :19.917. The complete list of qualifiers to the February 15 Los Alamitos Winter Championship is as follows: Moonist (:19.745), Far Niente (:19.881), Jake Gold Br (:19.910), Wagon Tales (:19.917), Remarkableyesapoweer (:19.929), Seperate Interest (:19.931), Matabari (:19.963), Tres Pescado (:20.028), French Fury (:20.043), and New Look (:20.121).