For the second time in four years, a horse owned by Abigail Kawananakoa has qualified to the prestigious Champion of Champions via the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Trials. Kawananakoa, a two-time AQHA owner of the year, had her first ever Champion of Champions runner in 2010 after Divide The Cash won a trial to the Z. Wayne Griffin. Her second Champion of Champions finalist now comes courtesy of her sophomore filly Significant Heart beat a field that included last year’s champion 3-year-old colt Hez Our Secret and 2011 World Champion Cold Cash 123 in the $15,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Trial on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Piloted by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, Significant Heart broke sharply from post number three and then held on to beat Johnny Trotter’s Hez Our Secret by a neck in a 400-yard time of :19.688. The victory gives Significant Heart a guaranteed berth to the Grade 1 $750,000 Champion of Champions to be held on Saturday, November 23. The final Champion of Champions berth will be awarded to the winner of the Zia Park Championship, which is now being held on Wednesday following its Saturday’s cancellation due to due to inclement weather. Hez Our Secret, who qualified to the Champion Of Champions last year via the Z. Wayne Griffin, would be next in line if another berth to the Champion of Champions opens up.
A filly by leading sire Corona Cartel out of the 2008 Ruidoso Futurity winner Jess Significant, Significant Heart has enjoyed a near perfect 3-year-old campaign. Bred by La Feliz Montana Ranch LLC, Significant Heart improved her record to five wins from six starts and the Z. Wayne Griffin was her third stakes victory of the season. She came into this race after winning the $178,000 PCQHRA Breeders Derby and earlier this year she won the Lanty’s Jet Handicap. Significant Heart earned $8,250 for winning the Z. Wayne Griffin to take her career bankroll over the $100,000 mark. She’s now earned $106,477 in her career with $97,975 from that amount coming this year.
“She ran tonight the same race that she always runs,” said jockey Ramon Sanchez. “She always runs like she did tonight. It’s like her name says, this filly has a significant heart. She’s all heart.”
For Jones, who was picking up a record breaking ninth victory in the Z. Wayne Griffin, Significant Heart now gives him three runners in the Champion of Champions. The champion trainer will also saddle defending Champion of Champions winner Rylees Boy and Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and Merial Distaff Championship winner Check N Fetch in the December 14 final. Significant Heart also gives the trainer an opportunity to win the Champion of Champions with a 3-year-old filly for a second time. He saddled champion Cash For Kas to an upset victory in the Champion of Champions on a foggy night in 2004. Significant Heart’s tremendous form makes her one to watch in next month’s 440-yard classic.
“This filly’s victory in this race legitimizes her as chances in the Champion of Champions because of the horses that she beat,” said Jones, who is a six-time winner of the Champion of Champions. “She beat some quality horses like Hez Our Secret, Cold Cash 123 and several others in this race. She did not make a mistake. I thought she was really overlooked in this race. If you look at her last race (a victory in the Breeders Derby), it was a much better effort than it looks. She was going against a 26 mile per hour headwind. Her winning time on that night (:20.04) would have been a lot closer to what it was tonight (:19.68) had it not been for that headwind. She stepped up tonight and won against some very tough runners.”
The trainer did admit to being a little concern that she was facing a solid field of older horses.
“I hate to admit it, but I thought that we were in tough,” Jones added. “She was standing good in the gate, broke fast from there and held on even though (Hez Our Secret) gave her a good run. We took a shot with her in this race. She had qualified to this race and she wasn’t in the Southern California Derby so we said why not give it a shot. If she was in the Southern California Derby we probably don’t run her here.”
Ridden by Ricky Ramirez for trainer Trey Wood, Hez Our Secret earned $3,375 for running second in this event. The son of First Down Dash came into this race after running second to champion Ochoa in the Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship in his last start. Hez Our Secret’s earnings now stand at $858,426. T. Bill Stables, Inc.’s Cold Cash 123 finished third, but he’s now gone over the $1.4 million mark in career earnings. For his career, the homebred by Oak Tree Special has earned $1,400,181 from 26 starts. Jess Lips finished fourth and was followed by Seperate Interest, Specials Gold and BF Farm Boy.
Ramon Sanchez has qualified four horses to the Champion of Champions this season. In addition to Significant Heart, Sanchez also qualified Rylees Boy in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, Check N Fetch in the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and Matabari in the Los Alamitos Super Derby… Rylees Boy, who became the oldest horse to win the Champion of Champions as a 7-year-old last year, worked 350 yards handily from the gate in a time of :17.90. The now 8-year-old millionaire champion last started when running fourth in the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. He was second in the Go Man Go Handicap two races ago and was the Winter Championship winner in February.
The field to the Champion of Champions is as follows right now:
Rylees Boy (winner of Los Alamitos Winter Championship)
Last To Fire (winner of Vessels Maturity)
Feature Hero (winner of All American Derby)
Priceless Feature (winner of Remington Park Championship)
Check N Fetch (winner of Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap)
Matabari (winner of Los Alamitos Super Derby)
Ochoa (Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship)
Vodka With Ice (winner of Bank of America Challenge Championship)
Significant Heart (winner Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Trial)
Final berth to be decided in Zia Park Championship on November 27
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