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Commander Corona wins Independence Day at Los Alamitos

July 7, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

Los Alamitos Race Course - An outstanding weekend got a heck of a lot better for Enrique Gonzalez, trainer Adan Farias and jockey Rodrigo Aceves Saturday at Los Alamitos.

The trio had celebrated a nifty victory in the Freshman Handicap with the 2-year-old filly Clydette Mia on Friday night and 24 hours later they were back in the winner's circle after track-record holder Commander Corona proved that he is the top 300-yard horse on the grounds following his victory in the $32,550 Independence Day Handicap at Los Alamitos. Breaking from post five, Commander Corona blasted out of the gate to a half-length lead before holding off Grade 1 winner and Champion of Champions finalist Texas Chatterbox by a nose to win at 300 yards.

Commander Corona, who was purchased for six-figures at the end of the 2003 season by Enrique Gonzalez, has now won three of four starts this year after being MIA from the local races in 2004 and 2005. Now racing for lessee Rodrigo Gonzalez, who is Enrique's brother, Commander Corona won an allowance race here in January of 2006, finished second to stakes winner and stablemate Quality Corona in March and then tied No Time To Fish's 300-yard track record of :15.09 on May 21. His victory in the Independence Day was the result of a :15.14 clocking that left Enrique Gonzalez's smiling from ear to ear.

"He loves this track," he said. "After I bought him, he went to Mexico for awhile but he didn't like it there. He likes Los Alamitos. He loves the night races. He loves this soft, wonderful racing surface and he enjoys racing here. My brothers Alfredo and Rodrigo are also involved with this horse and we're having a lot of fun with Commander Corona.

"Adan's father, who is also his assistant trainer, tells me that the horse still needs to put on some weight. If he can gain some weight I think he'll have the power to run 350, 400 yards. What I'm happy about is that he is in great health. He's sound, his feet are super and he is a very happy horse. Coming back to Los Alamitos has been great for him."

Right now, Rodrigo Aceves is having the time of his life at Los Alamitos. The 26-year-old pilot is the meet's leading Quarter Horse jockey with 91 wins, including nine wins over the last three racing programs. He won a total of six races on Saturday night and he combined with Farias to win all of the final Pick Three races on the card. Aceves has never been at the top of the standing this far into the season.

"This was a lucky night," said the soft-spoken Aceves. "I'm having a lot of luck right now but I couldn't do it without the great horses that I ride for trainers Adan Farias and Hector Jaime Hernandez. I know that I'm only in this position because Alex Bautista has not been riding, but then again I know I've been working very hard to get to where I am right now. There are a lot of good riders here at Los Alamitos, like Cody Jensen, who are right behind me in the standings, so I have to keep working hard to win races. I can tell you, it feels good to have a night like this."

Aceves had never won six races before during a single night.

"I've won five races before but never six. Luck is with me right now; I just hope that one day luck finds me aboard a horse in one of the million dollar races here at Los Alamitos or in the Champion of Champions later this year. That's my next goal, to be a familiar face in all of the big races here."

"That's great that Rodrigo is the leading rider now," said Gonzalez after hearing the news. "He deserves it. He's works hard and he's doing a great job."

Sent off at 4-1 odds, Commander Corona earned $17,902 for the win to take his career earnings to $43,927. Bred by Vinewood Farms, the gelding by Corona Cartel has now won four of 12 career starts.

William Orr Jr's Texas Chatterbox, who won the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap earlier this year and the Grade 1 John Deere Distaff Challenge last year, earned $7,324 for running second. The 300 yards is not supposed to be Texas Chatterbox's best distance, so this could be taken a sign of bigger and better things for the Chatterbox once she starts showing in the 350 and 400-yard stakes races at Los Alamitos later this year.

"We expect her to have a nice season," trainer Paul Jones said.

Imperial Crown's Texas Trio, a finalist in the 2004 Los Alamitos Million Futurity, finished third and was followed by Pats Charming Guy, Sassy Corona, Royal Medallion, Rhythm And Val and Justa Lane Change.