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Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire headline Champion of Champions showdown


December 11, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

Saturday night feature pits top older horse against top 3-year old

The Champion of Champions has featured some classic matchups during its glorious 42-year history. Sgt Pepper Feature vs. Denim N Diamonds, Cash Rate vs. Gold Coast Express, and Blues Girl Too vs. the great class of 2006 are just a few of the great encounters held in Quarter Horse racing’s most prestigious race.

The Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions features one of the most anticipated meetings in recent memory when Ron Hartley’s Moonist faces S-Quarter K LLC’s Heza Dasha Fire on Saturday night, December 12, at Los Alamitos. Trained by John Cooper, Moonist is the nation’s top older horse, while the Jose Flores-trained Heza Dasha Fire is the country’s top 3-year-old. AQHA champions in their respective divisions last year, Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire are currently ranked 1-2, respectively, in the AQHA Racing/ Horse Players National Racing Poll. Heza Dasha Fire will start from post number 10, a position Flores selected at the Champion of Champions special draw show on Wednesday afternoon. Remington Park Championship winner Dashin Brown Streak had previously selected the number eight post followed by trainer Guillermo Morales taking the number nine post the multiple stakes placed runner French Fury.

“I like the outside post for Heza Dasha Fire,” Flores said.

Heza Dasha Fire has won 10 of 11 career starts and his earnings of $1,389,388 are the highest among the horses in this race. Bred by S-Quarter K LLC’s Don, Kathy and Shawn Meneely, Heza Dasha Fire’s won the Golden State Futurity and Ed Burke Million Futurity in 2014 and the Los Alamitos Super Derby earlier this year. He also won the Grade 2 Golden State Derby on August 23. The son of Walk Thru Fire will be ridden by Cruz Mendez, currently the meet’s leading Quarter Horse rider. Moonist will start from post number seven, a spot that saw him win the Go Man Go Handicap on September 20. The Separatist gelding won a record four derbies last year and five stakes races this year. For his career, Moonist has won 11 stakes races at Los Alamitos.

“I look at all the winning photos of Moonist and I think he’s won from every single post,” Hartley said. “I am happy with whatever post he ends up with for the Champion of Champions. He’s ready.”

Cesar De Alba, will be aboard the Vessels Stallion Farm-bred gelding. Moonist will come into the race having earned $706,194 while winning 20 of 29 career starts.

Heza Dasha Fire vs. Moonist. The best part could be that since their both geldings that this could be the first of many meetings between the two in 2016 and beyond.

Like Heza Dasha Fire, Ed Allred’s Quirky is undefeated for 2015. The Stel Corona 4-year-old mare is a perfect four for four for the year and all of her victories have come in stakes races. Quirky has won five consecutive starts, as her winning streak began in last year’s Grade 1 Southern California Derby. She then won the Grade 2 Charger Bar Handicap in January followed by the Ivan Ashment Handicap and California Breeders Matron Stakes. She qualified to the Champion of Champions after winning the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap. Carlos Huerta will ride the winner of seven of 14 career starts.

“I look at all the winning photos of Moonist and I think he’s won from every single post,” Hartley said. “I am happy with whatever post he ends up with for the Champion of Champions. He’s ready.”

Cesar De Alba, will be aboard the Vessels Stallion Farm-bred gelding. Moonist will come into the race having earned $706,194 while winning 20 of 29 career starts.

Heza Dasha Fire vs. Moonist. The best part could be that since their both geldings that this could be the first of many meetings between the two in 2016 and beyond.

Like Heza Dasha Fire, Ed Allred’s Quirky is undefeated for 2015. The Stel Corona 4-year-old mare is a perfect four for four for the year and all of her victories have come in stakes races. Quirky has won five consecutive starts, as her winning streak began in last year’s Grade 1 Southern California Derby. She then won the Grade 2 Charger Bar Handicap in January followed by the Ivan Ashment Handicap and California Breeders Matron Stakes. She qualified to the Champion of Champions after winning the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap. Carlos Huerta will ride the winner of seven of 14 career starts. Quirky will be looking to become the first mare to win the Champion of Champions since Dash For Speed in 1990. Paulo Otavio Freire Macedo’s Solid Connection is the only other mare in the field. The daughter of Mr Jess Perry earned the 10th and final berth to the Champion of Champions by qualifying via the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial.

The rest of the field will include the Estate ofC.W.Navarre and Melvin Hatley’s Dashin Brown Streak, which will make his first ever Los Alamitos start after winning a pair of Grade 1 races at Remington Park. Tom Atwood and John Wells’ two-time Vessels Maturity winner Far Niente and Reliance Ranches’ All American Gold Cup and Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial winner Rock You are among the other top contenders in this race. Burns Ranch’s Seperate Interest, which is making his final career start before going to stud at Burns Ranch, and multiple Grade 1 finalists Well And Good and French Fury will complete the field.