Ed Allred’s year of milestones culminated with his first solo win in the Champion of Champions of his Hall of Fame career, as his millionaire homebred He Looks Hot defeated an all-star field of Quarter Horses to win the 47th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby, He Looks Hot stumbled at the start but was flawless the rest of the way from there. Starting from post number nine, He Looks Hot went on to a half-length victory over Kelly Perez’s Mi Amor Secreto in the Champion of Champions. A son of Walk Thru Fire out of Look Her Over, He Looks Hot covered the quarter of a mile distance in :21.380 at odds of 9-2. The gorgeous sorrel gelding earned $300,000 for the win to take his career earnings to $1,618,055.
Allred’s all-time richest money winning racehorse, He Looks Hot joins Rylees Boy as the only 7-year-olds to win the Champion of Champions. He’s now the fourth race horse to win both the Champion of Champions and the Los Alamitos Two Million, the latter a race he won in upset fashion back in 2014 over the seemingly unbeatable 2-year-old Heza Dasha Fire. The others to sweep the Two Million and Champion of Champions are Ocean Runaway (2004-05), Blues Girl Too (2006-07), and Good Reason SA (2010-11). He Looks Hot improved his career record to 14 wins in 38 starts.
As for Allred, 2019 has been a year of great accomplishments. On February 8, Oatie Three gave the owner his 1,500 career Quarter Horse victory, which is easily an all-time record for Quarter Horse horses. Allred then became the first owner to reach the 100 Quarter Horse stakes win plateau after his homebred Well Good won the Grade 3, $35,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap on April 24. Next, Allred became the first Quarter Horse owner to $20 million in career earnings and the first Quarter Horse breeder with $60 million in earnings. With Dr. Kenneth Wright, Allred was the co-owner of the legendary Charger Bar when she won the 2nd running ever of the Champion of Champions back in 1973. Forty-six years later, Allred is once again the winner of the Champion of Champions thanks to the great He Looks Hot.
“I wish my mentor Spencer Childers could be here right now,” Allred said. “I wish Brad McKinzie was here too. There are a lot of people that I wish were here for this win. I hope my good friend R.D. Hubbard was able to see this race. I know he will be happy for me.”
Allred and Hubbard were longtime partners in the ownership of Ruidoso Downs until Allred decided to sell his shares to Hubbard several years ago. McKinzie, who passed away in August 2017, was Allred’s right hand man in running Los Alamitos for many years, while the late Spencer Childers taught Allred many lessons about breeding Quarter Horses.
“Spencer is the one that taught the importance of good mares,” Allred said. “When I started acquiring some good mares, Spencer told to always stick with these female families and to never get rid of them. Like the mother of Look Her Over, who is Oh La Proud, I’ve had this line going back to the 1980s. I collect (Quarter Horse) female families.
“I thought (He Looks Hot) had to run a perfect race to be competitive here. He stumbled a little bit, but I knew he was going to win with about 100 yards to go. I can hardly talk right now. I am very happy. Vinnie Bednar, we wanted to convert him from being a Thoroughbred rider and I think we’ve done it. He’s a nice young man. Scott has been with me for 14 years and he’s an unbelievable year. He’s a fine man and I like being associated with him too.”
Allred is synonymous with the sport of Quarter Horse racing. He’s the owner of Los Alamitos Race Course and American Quarter Horse racing's all-time leader in nearly all statistical categories. He has been named AQHA Champion Breeder a record 13 times and AQHA Champion Owner a record six times. He has been the leading breeder in wins in 27 of the last 28 years.
He Looks Hot is special in every way possible. He has won lots of money and lots of big races. In addition to Champion of Champions and the Two Million, he’s also won the 1996 Vessels Maturity, the 2018 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and two runnings of the Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap. For him, the fourth time was the charm in the Champion of Champions, as he was making his fourth straight appearance in the sport’s most prestigious race.
He Looks Hot has also overcome three colic surgeries during his lifetime, all of them a result of him eating a piece of rope during in 3-year-old year.
“We’ll be coming back in 2020 with him trying to get a fifth Champion of Champions berth,” Willoughby. “We’ll try to defend this title. As a result of his surgeries, he needs a special diet and someone near watching him 24 hours a day. That’s fine with me because I love having him around. He is a very special horse. This win is the most special win. It means so much. When he stumbled a little bit away from the gate, I was very concerned. But he looked like he picked himself up – or Vinnie let him pick himself up. He was right in stride and he was still in front or right there on the lead. When he breaks that well, he’s pretty tough to outrun. He just kept to task. Vinnie let him get himself going and then he got after him. At 150 yards from the wire, he made the lead confidently. He’s pretty tough to handle once he makes the lead.
“Doc is a great owner. He’s just amazing to train for. He sells some of the great horses we have. We keep some of the great horses too. This horse was supposed to be in the sale at one point. We ended up keeping him. I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a lot of fun. I respect the man a lot. I had to call him for the third colic surgery and I had no idea how he would reach. He never even flinched. He just said, ‘Take him down (to the clinic) and do whatever you need to do.’ He’s been in this business a long time and knows that things happens. The people at the clinic at San Luis Rey Downs have done a marvelous job caring for this horse when they’ve need to. They’re a huge part of him being here.”
Bednar loved being in the outside post position with He Looks Hot.
“He’s actually the most relaxing horse to ride because he’s so consistent,” Bednar said. “I was a little worried. He was sitting a little (forward) in the gate, but Shane, (assistant starter) did a great job keeping him focus and not letting him move around too much. He fell out of there, but he fell in front and he stayed there. Everything went right. He ran to his full potential. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Galloping out I knew I had it. On the backside, I was still like ‘Wait was someone down at the rail?’ I just can’t believe it.”
Owned and bred by Kelly Perez, Mi Amor Secreto hit the wire second, a half-length ahead of Monica Williams’ Hotstepper.
“I’m so please with the way he ran,” trainer Marcos Carrizales said. “He ran a great race against the best horses. Hopefully we’ll be back next year for another try.”
Ridden by Jose Alvarez, the son of The Louisiana Cartel earned $96,000. He was sent off at 12-1 odds. The winner of the $300,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship,
Perez said that Mi Amor Secreto will now head back to Texas for some time off.
“It took forever for him to grow – to mature – and now he’s finally here. Last year, he started coming around and finished growing. He started getting more mature,” Perez said. “He ran a great race. I’m so proud of him. This was amazing. (Los Alamitos) is a beautiful place to run at and it’s been nice. I think he did the best that he could do. Everybody has their day. It wasn’t ours, but we came close.”
With Ramon Sanchez up for trainer Paul Jones, Hotstepper earned $60,000 for running third. The 2018 AQHA champion 3-year-old has now earned $1,416,316.
Scott Bryant’s Flash And Roll, the 3-2 favorite, was second at the start, but never showed that sizzle and was fourth at the midway point of the race. She ended up finishing sixth – her first loss in seven starts at Los Alamitos.
“She ran a really good race, but it wasn’t quite our night,” trainer Justin Joiner said. “I’m real happy for Scott (Willoughby). He works his butt off. Vinnie is a good friend of mine, Scott is a good friend. They’re good people and I’m extremely proud for him. This race is supposed to be about the best horses getting together and fighting it out through there. That’s just a real nice horse. Congratulations to those guys.”
As for running Flash And Roll in the Charger Bar Handicap on January 5, Joiner wasn’t ready commit her to the race.
“We’ll see how she comes back,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
The complete order of finish in the 47th Champion of Champions is as follows: He Looks Hot, Mi Amor Secreto, Hotstepper, BH Lisas Boy, As And Js, Flash And Roll, Zoomin For Spuds, Jesstacartel, and Tequila Sangria.