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Newly crowned World Champion Heza Dasha Fire headlines Winter Championship trials on Sunday


January 23, 2016     E-mail this page to a friend!

Heza Dasha Fire wins the Grade 1 Champion of Champions on December 12, 2015
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Heza Dasha Fire gets back to work in the trials to the Grade 1, $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on Sunday, January 24. First post for the eight-race card is 5:10 p.m. local time.

Thirteen horses are set to compete in the 400-yard heats with the fastest 10 horses advancing to the Winter Championship. The Los Alamitos Winter Championship will be contested on Valentine's Day on Sunday, February 14, which is appropriate considering horseplayers have had nothing but love for Heza Dasha Fire. Heza Dasha Fire has been the betting favorite in every one of his career starts and he's delivered victories in all but one out during that span.

The winner of the final earns the first starting berth to the 2016 Champion of Champions.

In his career, Heza Dasha Fire has won 11 of 12 starts, while coming into this race after enjoying a perfect 2015 campaign. All five of Heza Dasha Fire's wins came by at least a daylight margin of victory last year, with his closest call being a length win in the Los Alamitos Super Derby. Heza Dasha Fire also won the Champion of Champions by 1¼ lengths and the Golden State Derby by 1½ lengths. His dominant campaign earned him the title of champion 3-year-old gelding and champion 3-year-old in addition to the World Champion crown.

Heza Dasha Fire is part of an outstanding Winter Championship trial that also features four-time AQHA champion Moonist. Their rematch from the Champion of Champions is the featured seventh race on the Sunday card.

Jose Flores, who in addition to the World Champion also trains Ima Fearless Hero, will saddle Heza Dasha Fire.

The Winter Championship trials is the first of a probable six starts for Heza Dasha Fire in 2016.

“That’s about the number of races he’s had in each of his racing years,” said Flores. “He does well with that number of races each year. We thought about giving him a break right after the Champion for Champions, but we figured that it was better to run him now since he’s fit and has been doing great. He did have a little bit of a sore heel prior to the Champion of Champions, but he came out of the Champion of Champions feeling great. His fitness is great right now. We’re hoping to make the Winter Championship field, run in the final, and then he’ll enjoy some time off.”

Cruz Mendez, the meet’s leading Quarter Horse jockey here last year, will pilot Heza Dasha Fire as usual. He’ll start from post number one. Heza Dasha Fire won the 2014 Ed Burke Million Futurity from post one, but his only career loss also came from that spot that year. He’ll enter the trials with earnings of $1,689,388.

Ron Hartley’s Moonist is ready to work as well. A winner of 20 of 30 career starts and earnings of $802,194, Moonist makes his 2016 debut from post number six in this event. Runner-up to Heza Dasha Fire in the Champion of Champions, Moonist’s 2015 campaign included five stakes wins headed by the Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and the Go Man Go Handicap. He ran second in this race last year. Cesar De Alba will pilot Moonist for trainer John Cooper.

This trial also features Champion of Champions fourth-place finisher French Fury, a Stoli gelding now owned and trained by Valentin Zamudio. PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and Ruidoso Derby winner BF Farm Boss also competes in this trial. The other trial of the night is headed by 2014 South American champion Jake Gold BR and 2014 Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Discontent. Jake Gold BR won a trial to the Winter Championship last year and he ran a solid third to champion Matabari in the finale. Sugardaddy B and Dr Jess, 1-2 in the Lake Forest Handicap, and derby finalists Fiery Kimbo and Walk The Catwalk complete the field.