LARC NEWS Posted: 11/18/2019 3:09:36 AM


           Monica Williams’ Hotstepper, Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot, and Lesley Joyner’s Jesstacartel earned provisional berths to the  Grade 1,  $600,000 Champion of Champions after posting the three fastest qualifying times in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

            The Z. Wayne Griffin at 400 yards serve as the trials to determine the final spots to the Champion of Champions. Two divisions were offered this year with three berths up for grabs. Hotstepper, the AQHA champion 3-year-old last year, won the first division of the Z. Wayne after holding off He Looks Hot by a nose in the fastest time of the night of :19.536. He Looks Hot, who has qualified to the Champion of Champions each of the past four years, had the second fastest time of the night of :19.539. Zoomin For Spuds finished third in this division, but he had previously qualified to the Champion of Champions via his victory in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in early February. Zoomin For Spuds posted a time of :19.659.

Jesstacartel, the runner-up in the Champion of Champions last year, won the second division over Mildred Vessels Handicap runner-up As And Js on the way to also qualifying to the Champion of Champions with the next fastest qualifying time of :19.686.  The three qualifiers now join Zoomin For Spuds, Katies Easy Moves, BH Lisas Boy, Political Attraction, Tequila Sangria, Flash And Roll, and SF Hot Pass in the field to the 440-yard Champion of Champions to be held on Saturday, December 14.

         If the connections of any of these horses decline their berth, then the horse with the next fastest time in the Z. Wayne would move on to the Champion of Champions. Kelly Perez’s Mi Amor Secreto is currently the fourth fastest qualifier with a time of :19.688, while Leonardo Alcala’s As And Js is the fifth fastest with a time of :19.698.

Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, Hotstepper picked the perfect time to score his first victory at Los Alamitos. The son of One Famous Eagle broke on top from post number three and established a neck advantage at the midway point of the 400-yard race. With Vinnie Bednar aboard for trainer Scott Willoughby, He Looks Hot was flying in the second half of the race, but Hotstepper was able to holding off by a nose.

“He ran his race tonight,” Jones said. “First time we ran him here he ran a really good race (second in the Independence Day Handicap). He then came back to run two dud races. We finally got him back to doing well and feeling good. The horse definitely has some past class and great talent. I’m glad that he was able to show it tonight. He’s a Grade 1 horse and I’m really pleased. He held on. We haven’t had a lot of races and I think he’ll come back a little fitter next time and be able to hold the 440 yards. He Looks Hot is a great horse. To hold him off is a big accomplishment.”

Hotstepper, the winner of the All American Derby and Texas Classic Derby last year, earned $8,250 for this win to take his career earnings to $1,356,316. This was also his seventh victory in 19 career starts.

He Looks Hot, a 7-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire, earned $3,375 to take his lifetime earnings to $1,318,055. This was his 24th top three finish in 37 career starts. He won the Spencer Childers California Breeders Handicap and Moonist Handicap earlier this year.

Starting from post number one, Carlos Huerta piloted the Mark Skeen-trained Jesstacartel to a nose victory over As And Js. The win was the ninth in 17 career starts for the 4-year-old homebred gelding by One Sweet Jess.  This was his first win since a length victory in a trial to the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity on June 16. He returned to finish third in the Vessels final. Last year, Jesstacartel won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and the Grade 2 Golden State Derby before finishing second to eventual AQHA World Champion Bodacious Eagle in the Champion of Champions. He earned $8,250 for this win to take his lifetime earnings to $663,600.  Jesstacartel was coming into this race after an out of the money finish in the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on October 13.

“I thought he was more focused in the paddock (tonight) and looked better,” Joyner said. “It probably helped us a little bit because he had been having some problems in the gate. He had been throwing his head down before the race. He had not been interested in the race part of it. With what happened in the gate (the scratch of Eagles Policy for breaking through the gate), he got to go in and out, in and out of the gate. I think that helped him settle a little better.”

Five Puig Racing’s As And Js earned $3,375 for her runner-up effort in this race. Jose Nicasio rode the mare for trainer Monty Arrossa.


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