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Apollitical Time wins Mildred Vessels

September 29, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Los Alamitos Race Course, Cypress, CA - Apollitical Time, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, set up a potential monumental match up with 2004 World Champion Be A Bono in the October 14 Los Alamitos Invitational Championship following a hard-fought victory in the $250,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap Friday, September 22, at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for owner Juan Alberto Tirado Lizarraga, the 1-2 favorite Apollitical Time battled John Deere California Distaff winner Blazin Fire the entire 400-yard race eventually prevailing over her game opponent by a half-length in a time of :19.52.

The winning time was the second fastest in 34 runnings of the Mildred Vessels and was just 1/100ths of a second shy of Mongoose Jet Eye's 2005 stakes record. Higher Fire, the only 3-year-old filly in this race, finished third while Pomona Express Stakes winner What A Performance ran fourth.

Next for Apollitical Time is a date in the 440-yard Los Alamitos Invitational Championship against a field that could include the red hot Be A Bono. The Vessels Stallion Farm-bred mare and Be A Bono have to be regarded as the top two older horses on the grounds right now. In fact, the two stars have enjoyed similar seasons thus far.

They both began their campaigns with setbacks, Apollitical Time with a second place finish in the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap, while Be A Bono ran third in a trial to the Vessels Maturity. They've both been undefeated since then, winning three stakes races each in the process.

Be A Bono won the Vessels Maturity final, Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap and Go Man Go Handicap, while Apollitical Time has posed for photos in the Matron Stakes, MBNA America California Challenge Championship and now the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap.

The main difference in their season is that while Be A Bono has already guaranteed his spot in this year's $600,000 Champion of Champions, Apollitical Time has not. And that's where the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship comes into play.

"That's where we're going with her next," said Tirado Lizarraga, a fisherman in Mazatlan, Mexico, who now resides in Colton, California. "We think that she can be a candidate to win the Invitational but we understand the challenge of facing Be A Bono. He's a great horse - a champion - and we can only hope that she runs her best race. We'll see what happens then."

It appears that Apollitical Time will go into the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship as sharp as can be. While the winning margin in the Mildred Vessels was only a half-length, Sanchez was more concerned about keeping her from drifting inside more than anything else during the final 1/8th of a mile.

"At the end, Ramon said that he looked at Blazin Fire to see where she was at, and he knew that it was over," said trainer Juan Aleman. "Both mares ran super races. Apollitical Time was breaking from (post nine) and that's not a spot that she particularly likes. She would rather run in between horses but you take what they give you when it comes to (post positions)."

"She wanted to drift inside a little bit," Sanchez added. "But she kept going and finished strongly. I don't think there's a better mare than her right now. This was her race to win."

Apollitical Time's victory in the Mildred Vessels helped make amends from her worst effort of her champion 3-year-old filly campaign last year. The Apollo filly out of the First Down Dash mare Half Time Attraction ran fourth to champion aged Quarter Horse Mongoose Jet Eye in the Mildred Vessels, a resulted that accounted for Apollitical Time's only out of the money finish in 11 starts in 2005.

"The difference is that she is a little bit older, more mature," Tirado Lizarraga explained. "The truth is that I've been blessed with having a mare like her. I owe a lot to her. I feel so happy to have her. We hope that she can continue to run at this level. When we claimed her for $16,000 I never expected anything like this. She's given us a lot of happiness and I'd love for that to continue."

Apollitical Time earned $125,000 for the win to take her career earnings to $658,752. She has won 12 of 25 career starts and 11 of 20 outings since being claimed back on August 6, 2004. Eight of those wins have come in stakes races.

Owned and bred by Dan and Lisa McMahon, Blazin Fire earned $43,750 for her runner-up effort in the Mildred Vessels to take her career earnings to $110,860. The Tennessee-bred daughter of This Snow Is Royal was ridden by Cody Jensen and saddled by Paul Jones.

"Apollitical Time was just a little too quick and a little too fast," Jensen said to Jones after the race.

"That was Blazin Fire's best race she's given me so far," Jensen added.

Blazin Fire has previously won the Grade 3 California Distaff and an allowance race by an impressive 2-3/4 lengths. Blazin Fire can take solace in knowing that two of the past three runner-ups in the Mildred Vessels - Royaltime Classic in 2003 and Apollos Favorite in 2005 - finished their season in the Champion of Champions.

Julianna Hawn Holt's Higher Fire ran super during the second half of the race on the way to earning $$25,000. She was sixth at the start before sailing past What A Performance, First Down Runner and Lindas Dasher to run third.

"She slipped at the start," said jockey J.R. Ramirez. "Her back legs got away from her. She ran super from there."

"She gets beat by a neck for second place," trainer Jaime Gomez added. "I thought she ran very well at the end."

Higher Fire has now made $1,273,852 in her career - a figure that makes her the richest horse currently stabled at Los Alamitos.

The complete order of finish follows; Apollitical Time, Blazin Fire, Higher Fire, What A Performance, A Sisstar, First Down Runner, Lindas Dasher, Sassy Corona and Pritzi Miss. Apollos Favorite was scratched.