Preview Racing

AQHA World Champion Empressum Heads Los Alamitos Winter Championship Trials On Sunday
AQHA World Champion Empressum will make his 2023 debut in Sunday's Grade 1, $144,950 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials at Los Alamitos.

Dustin Orona Photography
AQHA World Champion Empressum Heads Los Alamitos Winter Championship Trials On Sunday

LOS ALAMITOS, CA—JANUARY 28, 2023— Steve Holt and Jeff Jones’ homebred Empressum, the recently named AQHAWorld Champion, will make his first start since his victory in the 50th running of the Grade 1 Champion of Champions when he headlines a powerful and compact cast of older sprinters in the trials to the Grade 1, $144,950 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship on Sunday night. 

First post for the 10-race program is 5:15 p.m. with the two Winter Championship trials slated as races 9 and 10.

The Winter Championships hopefuls is a list of stars. In addition to the World Champion Empressum, the list of luminaries includes Dunn Ranch’s Apollitical Pence, winner of the Brad McKinzie last year and a two-time Champion of Champions winner.

Apollitical Pence will be in action in the second trial, while Empressum heads the first trial. In his heat, Empressum will face Edward and Von Zae McNelis’ Scoops Dynasty, a two-time graded derby winner last year, and Ed Allred’s London Toby, who could be poised for greatness based on his four-race win streak. 

The eyes of the Quarter Horse racing world on Sunday night will focus on Empressum, as he returns to the big stage under the stars, fresh off his great 2022 campaign. He won the Champion of Champions against a star-studded field that included Apollitical Pence and the 2021 AQHAWorld Champion Danjer.

He also scored scintillating victories in the Go Man Go Handicap and the Vessels Maturity.  His only loss at Los Alamitos was a second-place finish behind Apollitical Pence in the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo will pilot Empressum from post two for trainer Heath Taylor.     

The matchup between Empressum, Scoops Dynasty, and London Toby sets the World Champion against two exciting rivals that he’s never faced before. Scoops Dynasty, trained by Monty Arrossa, won in six of seven starts last year, including a 3/4 length win in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and later in the year a three-length victory in the Grade 2 Golden State Derby. He ran second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and his overall record elevated him to the ranks of one of the top 3-year-old geldings in the nation. Armando Cervantes will ride from post number four.

Meanwhile, the sky is the limit for the Allred-bred and Scott Willoughby-trained London Toby, whose average win margin in his last four starts is over 2 1/4 lengths. That included a two length in the Grade 3 First Down Dash Handicap on December 18. Jesus Rios Ayala will handle the reins from post number five.     

In the second trial, the big favorite is Apollitical Pence, who will look to score his eighth win from his last nine starts. Armando Cervantes will ride the now 7-year-old millionaire from post three. Stakes winners Dasha Dynasty, Mister Tornado, and Letty Cartel are among the top contenders in this trial.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For more info, please contact  Follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @losalracing or visit us online at