Lucky Seven Ranch’s Sass Mo Blue overcame a troubled start and surged late to get the money in the $109,500 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes on Sunday.
Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, the winner of the 2020 Rising Star Jockey Award, Sass Mo Blue stumbled and bumped out of the gate from post number two, but he recovered to find his stride and then powered his way into contention before outdueling Dunn Ranch’s Aint Working by a neck to win the 350-yard race. Trained by Mike Casselman, the homebred gelding covered the distance in :17.547 while finishing the final 220 yards in a solid time of :09.520.
Sass Mo Blue, a son of 2010 World Champion Apollitical Jess and out of the 2016 AQHA champion aged mare Sass Me Blue, had previously posted the fastest qualifying time when winning his Maiden Stakes trial by 1 ¼ lengths. He’s now won two of six starts and has finished fourth or better in every single one of his outings. He earned $45,990 for this win and his career earnings now stand at $52,240. Prior to his victory in the trials to the Maiden Stakes, Sass Mo Blue finished second to Cattail Cove in a trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Cattail Cove went on to finish second in the Two Million to eventual AQHA champion 2-year-old filly Cartel Jess Rockin. Sass Mo Blue, meanwhile, just continues to look better with each and every start. He earned $45,990 for this win and his career earnings now stand at over $52,000.
“He stumbled out of the gate and we just watched the replay, he was bearing down,” said Russell Stooks of Lucky Seven Ranch. “He was focused tonight. It was a good race. He needed that. We had to back off of him early in the (2019). This is only his sixth race. We’ve brought him along slow. He’s not in anything until the Golden State Derby trials (August 2) and then Los Alamitos Super Derby trials (October 17). We’ll give him six weeks off. We’ll turn him out on some grass and bring him back up and get him ready for the fall season.”
Several winners of the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes have gone to outstanding career. Donna King’s LDS Dash For Dylan went on to become a Grade 1 stakes winner and raced in the Champion of Champions, while J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley’s Royal Proclamation became a graded derby winner. Sass Mo Blue’s promising development and wonderful breeding could mean that he could be headed for future success.
“He looks like he could be that type of a horse,” Stooks added. “…Apollitical Jess and out of the great champion mare Sass Me Blue, we are proud of him.”
Sass Mo Blue was gelded following his maiden start, which was a fourth place finish on May 19. He was gelded in July and he’s finished third or better in every one of his starts from that point on.
“We fought some shins on him early last year,” Casselman said. “That hurt him right off the bat. We were a little bit late (gelding) him and he’s just improved each time. He’s a lot easier to get along with and he always has a lot of fun doing his job. He trains really well. He’s going to make a really nice 3-year-old. He showed a lot of guts (tonight). He could have given up, but he dug in and got it done.”
Rios Ayala was winning the Maiden Stakes for the second straight year. He piloted the Justin Joiner-trained Apollitical Flying, who is also by Apollitical Jess, to victory in this race last year. A three-time leading Quarter Horse rider at Los Alamitos, Rios Ayala is once again at the top of the standings this season. The talented jockey gave Sass Mo Blue all the credit for delivering a gutsy performance.
“(Sass Mo Blue) was standing nicely and I thought he was going to have a nice start,” the jockey said. “He broke so hard that he stumbled out of there. He recovered quickly and he went after the field. I could see (Aint Working) on the outside. He was giving the strongest challenge, but we were able to hold him off at the end. This horse is just maturing more and more. He’s just getting better and better.”
Ridden by Armando Cervantes for trainer Monty Arrossa, Aint Working ran a tremendous race from the outside post number nine. The son of Favorite Cartel battled every step of the way and crossed the wire a neck ahead of Jeryl or Ron Hartley’s Jespinky for second place. The California-bred gelding earned $18,615 for running second. He covered the distance in :17.576.
Trained by John Cooper and ridden by Juan Pablo Leon, Jespinky earned $13,140 for finishing third. Sounds Good, Vegas Corona, Dance Dakota Dance, Black Jack MV, Kates First Down, and Loose On Katella completed the field.