The 21st running of the Bank of America Challenge Championships kicked off on Saturday night at Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California with four undercard stakes preceding the six featured events. Following is a recap of the quartet of stakes:
In the $20,000 Markel Stakes for 2-year-olds, Another Storm prevailed by a nose to earn a victory in his stakes debut. The gelded son of Foose dashed 350 yards in :17.688 with Saul Ramirez Jr. aboard for trainer Paul Jones, who co-owns the California-bred with Manuel Guerrero. Edward C. Allred bred the winner out of the First Down Dash mare Mega Storm.
Jones and Guerrero claimed Another Storm for $10,000 on September 8 and moved him up in class on October 12 for another victory against $16,000 claiming foes before his stakes debut in the Markel. The gelding has hit the board in all seven of his starts with a record of 3-2-2 and earnings of $20,808.
Benny Rosset’s Jagger Br, also a gelding by Foose, rallied for second, and Legacy Ranch Inc.’s Ghost Pepper, a gelding by Ocean Runaway, closed to get third.
The $20,000 AQHA Members Plus for fillies and mares went to J. Garvin Kelly’s Shanachee, who earned her first career stakes victory after several close finishes against stakes foes over her 24-race career. Piloted by Raul Valenzuela for trainer Juan Aleman, the 4-year-old daughter of Country Chicks Man prevailed by a half-length and stopped the timer at :19.747 for 400 yards.
Bred in Oklahoma by Kelly’s E I R E Equine Nursery LLC, Shanachee had three previous stakes-placings with a second in both the Iowa Double Gold Futurity (RG3) and Iowa Double Gold Derby (R) at Prairie Meadows and a third in this year’s Merial Remington Distaff Challenge in Oklahoma. Her career record now stands at 24-6-4-3 with earnings of $95,652.
Multiple Grade 1 finalist La Corona Cartel, a daughter of Corona Cartel running for Gustavo and Jose De La Torre, took second with Michael Isom’s Valiant Hero filly Secret Hero, who spent most of the season at Les Bois Park in Idaho and Sweetwater Downs in Wyoming, in third.
The $20,000 John Deere Stakes for 3-year-olds featured a big upset as 15-1 longshot All Out Arrogant got up to defeat fellow longshot Jabuti Eagle SA at odds of 10-1. All Out Arrogant, with Cruz Mendez aboard for trainer Cody Joiner and owner Randall Dees, prevailed by a nose in a time of :19.716 for 400 yards.
Bred in California by Dean and Darrell Frey, All Out Arrogant had trouble in his prior two starts but a clean break in the John Deere made the difference for his first stakes win. The gelded son of FDD Dynasty picked up his fourth career victory, all at Los Alamitos. His career record now stands at 11-4-2-0 with earnings of $33,598.
Splenda LLC’s Jabuti Eagle SA, a colt by One Famous Eagle who ran in the Golden State Derby (G1) two starts back, nearly held on for the victory and finished a clear second. Favored Dublinon, a finalist in the Rainbow Derby (G1) for owners J Bar 7 Ranch LLC, Monte and Katsy Cluck and Douglas Benson, got up for third.
In the $20,000 Farnam Stakes for older horses at 440 yards, the only female runner in the field, Last To Check Him, came home powerfully to win going away by three-quarters of a length. With Eduardo Nicasio in the irons, Last To Check Him sprinted the distance in :21.587. The 4-year-old Check Him Out mare runs for trainer Jose De La Torre, who co-owns her with brother Gustavo De La Torre.
Last To Check Him was bred in California by the Estate of Spencer Childers out of the Strawfly Special mare Last Shall Be First, making her a half sister to two-time Grade 1 winner Last To Fire. Last To Check Him now has two stakes wins and a record of 18-4-2-2 with earnings of $312,434, much of which came from a third-place finish in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1).
The De La Torre brothers also took second with Mister Michael, a 550-yard stakes winner last year at Los Alamitos. Moonshine Racing’s Eye On Corona, who ran in the Los Alamitos Two Million with Last To Check Him, finished third.