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Fillies “Jess” keep on rolling in Southern California Derby trials


November 27, 2016     E-mail this page to a friend!

Time For Jess (#2) sets the fastest qualifying time—400 yards in :19.723—from four trials to the December 18 Southern California Derby
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess and John and Cina Sperry’s Jess Good Reason, two of the top sophomore fillies at Los Alamitos this season, were among the impressive winners on the night of the trials to the $168,500 Southern California Derby on Sunday night, November 27, at the Orange County track.

Ridden by Carlos Huerta for trainer Lin Melton, Time For Jess continued her solid 2016 campaign, as the daughter of Apollitical Jess posted the fastest qualifying time to the December 18 Southern California Derby final by winning her 400-yard trial in :19.723 over a sloppy track. The filly was coming into this race after running third in the Grade 1 $768,000 Los Alamitos Super Derby against top boys like winner Big Lew and runner-up Rite Regal, a pair of runner that will be racing next in the Champion of Champions on December 10.

Time For Jess’ campaign has also featured a win in the Adequan California Derby Challenge and a second place finish in the Miss Princess Handicap. For the year, Time For Jess has finished in the top three in all but one of her nine outings.

“She’s done everything I’ve asked her to do,” Melton said of the J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley-bred filly. “She’s hearty. She’s unbelievable. She likes to run. The more I run her the better she does. She’s not the type of runner that gets much out of a workout. She prefers the actual racing. As long as she enjoys it, we’ll keep racing her. There was a lot of moisture on the track, but I thought she would run well if she got away good. I think Carlos Huerta fits her perfectly. He takes good care of her. He wraps her up and holds down to her. She likes that. The harder she pulls the better she runs. I think they’re a good team right now.”

Time For Jess finished a neck ahead of second fastest qualifier Ima Fearless Hero, which crossed the wire in a time of :19.750. The millionaire son of Valiant Hero also came into this race after running in the Super Derby final, where he finished fourth to Big Lew. Owned by S-Quarter K LLC, Ima Fearless Hero won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity last year.

Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Thermonuclear Energy posted the third fastest qualifying time of :19.801 after winning the evening’s third of four trials. Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Chris O’Dell, the Walk Thru Fire filly finished a half-length ahead of Oscar Andrade and Dr. Steve Burns’ Uno Corona Mas, which posted the fourth fastest time of :19.889. Elena Andrade saddled the One Sweet Jess colt that she affectionately calls ‘Bear’. Uno Corona Mas is a half-brother of Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Jess Mas, which is also owned by Andrade and Burns.

Few fillies have been as consistent this season as Jess Good Reason. Bred by Preston and Karen Cloud, Jess Good Reason has finished first or second in nine of 12 starts this season and in 12 of 14 career outings. Jess Good Reason won her trial easily – the fourth and final of the night – while crossing the wire 1 ˝ lengths ahead of Checkn Fire.

Ridden by Oscar Peinado for trainer Paul Jones, Jess Good Reason covered the distance in :19.901 to post the fifth fastest qualifying time. She came into this race after winning the $202,000 Adequan Derby Challenge final, a spot that she gained when Time For Jess decided to run in the Super Derby final instead. Jess Good Reason won the La Primera Del Ano Derby on April 2 and was the runner-up to Champion of Champions bound Sass Me Blue when facing older mares in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on September 25.

“This filly is really sharp right now,” Jones said. “She’s coming off a win on Bank of America Racing Challenge Night and she’s just really good. She’s behaving herself in the gate now and being really professional. She’s a talented filly. She started the year really good, tapered off in the middle of the year and now she’s come back. She’s really running strong and we’re pleased to have a nice win for Mr. Sperry. It’s been the key to get her to settle down in the gate and to be professional and do her job. She’s always shown a lot of talent. She’s maturing now and getting a little older and has a nice future ahead of her.”

The remaining trial of the night was won by Two Feathers Series, LLC’s Stevie B First Cash, another horse in top form racing at Los Alamitos. The First Down Dash colt won his trial by a half-length in the ninth fastest time of :19.987. Jose Amador Alvarez rode the Lepic-Morgan Partnership-bred runner for trainer Bret Vickery. Stevie B First Cash’s mother is Spit Curl Diva, the 2010 and 2011 AQHA champion aged mare.

“The competition was really tough,” Vickery said of the trials. “He’s run in the mud several times in Ruidoso so that didn’t bother me too bad. He’s used to it and it may have been to our advantage. He jumped up and ran a nice race. That’s all we can ask. He’s a stallion and he knows it. He’s very obnoxious and a little spoiled as well. He’s got a lot of personality this horse.”

Stevie B First Cash has been in the top three in all but one of his 11 starts this season. He ran third in the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby and then won the $100,000 First Down Dash Stakes, which is the All American Derby consolation stakes. Since returning to Los Alamitos in the fall, he has finished third when facing older horses in the Grade 1 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and was the winner against 3-year-old rivals in the Town Policy Handicap on November 5.

The complete list of qualifiers to the Southern California Derby is as follows: Time For Jess (:19.723), Ima Fearless Hero (:19.750), Thermonuclear Energy (:19.801), Uno Corona Mas (:19.889), Jess Good Reason (:19.901), We Like Corona (:19.959), Dynasty Energy (:19.960), Jess A Pollitician (:19.978), Stevie B First Cash (:19.987), and Nymph (:20.00).