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Analysis of California Breeders' Champions Night Races at Los Alamitos
Posted: 7/26/2012 11:52:00 PM
|This weekend, we're going to take a closer look – from a handicapper's perspective – of three of the graded stakes on Saturday's California Breeders' Champions Night program at Los Alamitos.|
A total of $942,500 in purse money will be at stake on Saturday. The big money is bringing out the horses, as an average of 8.6 horses have been entered per race, and the 13-race program will feature three Pick-4 wagering opportunities for handicappers.
Though it has been restricted to California-breds since its inception, the Governor's Cup Derby has produced a number of AQHA champions, including Griswold (1989), Corona Chick ('92), Corona Cash ('98), Separatist (2000), Apollitical Time ('05), Wave Carver ('06), and FDD Dynasty ('07). The 400-yard stakes record of :19.34 was set by Wave Carver, who eventually was voted the 2006 AQHA world champion.
Our top choice for this year's Governor's Cup Derby is New Look, a sorrel gelding by Walk Thru Fire who was a prompt odds-on favorite in what might have been the toughest of the three trials on July 14. New Look is undefeated in three starts at this 400-yard distance, and he has won five of his last three races, including the 400-yard, $184,000 El Primero del Ano Derby (G2) against open company on April 7.
Ima Chickie Two was a beaten favorite in his trial, as the gray daughter of Chicks Beduino finished a half of a length behind second-fastest qualifier Kindly Fellow in the third and final heat. Ima Chickie Two was making her first start off of a more than nine-month layoff, so she might have needed the race. Also, she has some class in her resume, as she scored a half-length victory as the third-fastest qualifier in last year's 350-yard, $500,000 PCQHRA Breeders' Futurity (G2).
Kindly Fellow was also coming off of a long layoff in his trial, but this brown gelding by TR Dasher responded off the shelf with a TrackMaster speed rating of 104. Kindly Fellow ran second, a neck behind champion Separate Fire, in last year's Grade 1, 350-yard Ed Burke Million Futurity.
Terrific Synergy, the fastest qualifier and 7-5 morning-line favorite, scored an impressive 2 1/4-length win in the second trial. A sorrel gelding by FDD Dynasty, Terrific Synergy has won three previous trials for Grade 1 stakes at Los Alamitos, but it's worth noting that the best he's been able to do in a final is a fourth in last year's Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1).
This year's Governor's Cup Futurity will carry a purse of $388,000 – its lowest since 2004 – and be the night's richest race. Our top selection, sixth-fastest qualifier Secretly Hot, has won her last two starts, including what might have been the toughest trial by a half of a length. A bay daughter of Walk Thru Fire, Secretly Hot earned a solid 97 TrackMaster speed rating when she scored a 1 1/4-length maiden win against a field that included next-out winner Illthinkaboutit on June 8, and she posted a pair of bullet works before she made her career debut in late April.
Remembering Spence ran second as the 3-5 choice in Secretly Hot's trial. This nicely bred TR Dasher colt won the June 24 Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile Stakes with a 97 speed rating, and it's also worth noting that 2-year-old foals produced by his dam, the unraced Bono Jazz mare Sables Bono, have been winning at 25-percent clip from 20 starts.
Henoshersecret, a colt by No Secrets Here trained by two-time Governor's Cup Futurity winner Paul Jones, was a prompt 1-2 favorite in his trial. Two-year-old starters out of this colt's dam, the winning Corona Cartel mare Shenoshercorona, have won 42 percent of their 24 starts.
Don Loncho won his trial by a half of a length as the 13-10 favorite. A colt by Walk Thru Fire, Don Loncho has been well bet in all three of his races, and his morning work tab includes a :12.00 gate work on March 24, the fastest of 48 drills at the 220-yard distance that day.
The Spencer Childers California Breeders' Championship dates back to its first running in 1993, when John and Kathie Bobenrieth's Chicks Got Pazazz – the dam of 2000 world champion A Ransom – earned the winner's share of a $20,000 purse. The race first earned graded status two years later. The 400-yard stakes record of :19.06 is held by Stern Ranches Ltd.'s Chivalry SR, a homebred Walk Thru Fire gelding who won this stakes last season.
Our top choice, Hot Hitter, shows some nice morning drills for this, his first out in more than seven months. A 4-year-old son of Walk Thru Fire and the productive Chicks Beduino mare Chickasis, Hot Hitter earned a 107 TrackMaster speed rating when he won last year's 400-yard Governor's Cup Derby (RG1) as the fastest qualifier, and he is a horse for the Los Alamitos course, as he has made the trifecta in 13 of his 15 races over the track.
Creston Goer, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, is untested at this distance, but the 4-year-old TR Dasher gelding earned a 108 speed rating in his three-quarter length victory against a tough field in the Grade 3, 350-yard Kaweah Bar Handicap on April 22. In his season debut, Creston Goer defeated a stakes-quality field that included 2011 Southern California Derby (G1) runner-up Feature My Corona and the Grade 1-placed Fabulous Fifties.
A one-time $12,500 claimer, Twelve Stepper has earned 100-plus speed ratings in his last three races, including a second-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the 350-yard, $25,000 Independence Day Handicap on July 1.
Upset-minded handicappers might want to include Walkin Bac, a 15-1 morning-line longshot, in their exotic wagers. This 4-year-old stallion by Walk Thru Fire hasn't won this year, but he earned some solid three-figure speed ratings while he chased the toughest sophomores in California last year.
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Michael Cusortelli has been a definitive source for American Quarter Horse racing industry news for more than a decade. A graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, he has been a racing publicist and was most recently field editor and electronic news editor for the American Quarter Horse Racing Journal for 10 years. He currently works as racing correspondent for the New Mexico Horse Breeders Magazine, and he has contributed to several industry publications, including The Horseplayer Magazine, Daily Racing Form, HoofBeats, and the Texas Thoroughbred Magazine.