LARC NEWS Posted: 7/30/2017 1:30:16 AM

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       The good times continue to roll for Darling Farms, as the nation’s hottest racing operation was back in the winner’s circle after J Fire Up, which the farms co-owns in partnership with Ernesto Solis and breeders Jaime Gomez, won the $390,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity by ¾ lengths over fastest qualifier Chance To Fire on California Breeders Champions Night on Saturday at Los Alamitos. The Governor’s Cup Futurity was the richest race on the night’s all stakes 12-race card.

“He’s a lucky man,” Gomez said of owner Dan Darling. “He won the Rainbow Derby and Heritage Place Derby with Hold Air Hostage and he’s part owner of this great filly, J Fire Up.”

Solis, a horseman for more than 35 years, saw the filly when she was born and watched her grow up, and always knew that she would be something special.

“Ernesto told me that she would be number one,” Gomez said. “That’s because she has a marking on her left-hand side, right on her shoulder. It’s a really beautiful number one on the muscle. You can tell. It looks exactly like a perfect number one. You have to see it to believe, and she also loves the one hole. She really does.”  

Gomez is also getting close to being the number one trainer in the history of the Governor’s Cup Futurity. The veteran Quarter Horse conditioner has now picked up four victories in this race, his previous ones coming with Flys R Streakin in 2002 and two victories in 2006 when his trainees, Tac It Like A Man and Checknbac dead-heated for first place. The legendary Blane Schvaneveldt is the all-time leader in Governor’s Cup Futurity wins with five wins. Ridden by Jose Nicasio, who was enjoying the biggest victory of his young riding career, J Fire Up posted a ¾ length victory while covering the 350-yards from post number one in a time of :17.558.

“The good ones, they don’t need a trainer,” Gomez said. “She’s got all the class and all heart, and I have a super lucky guy right here in Dan Darling, who won the Rainbow Derby and the Heritage Place Derby with Hold Air Hostage. He’s probably coming out here to aim for the Champion of Champions.”

“We’ve been lucky,” Darling said. “We’ve been blessed. We’ve been in racing for four years. My father-in-law was a trainer and my wife was raised on the track. Her and my daughter got to showing miniature horses. I thought if I could get some racehorses I could get them out of that, but it didn’t work.”

“Now he’s going to have 100 weanlings next year,” Gomez said.

“I got carried away,” Darling added with a smile.

“He’s the kind of owner that we need out here,” Gomez added. “He loves this place because it’s nice and fair.”

Sired by Kiddy Up and out of the mare This Boogie Fires, Fire Up earned $161,700 for the win to take her lifetime earnings to $330,525. If you add J Fire Up’s earnings to Darling Farms’ earnings to total of his other horses, the racing operation has enjoyed total earnings of over $1,000,000. Meanwhile, J Fire Up has won three of five starts and finished in the top two in each of her outings.

Abigail Kawananakoa’s Chance To Fire earned $65,450 for his second place finish. The Ed Allred-bred gelding by Walk Thru Fire was also third in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 18. Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Chris O’Dell, Chance To Fire has now earned $188,900 in his five race career. Ron Hartley’s The Revenant earned $46,200 for finishing third. Casino Baccarat, Knockout Jess, One Sweet Barbie, Effortless Effort, Yanque, Magnifisant Seven, and Ditto Head completed the field.

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