LARC NEWS Posted: 8/3/2020 9:55:44 AM

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            Three weeks ago, Ed Allred’s Nomadic posted the fastest qualifying time in the trials to the Governor’s Cup Derby at Los Alamitos. The gelding by Favorite Cartel returned here last Saturday night with a strong performance to win the Governor’s Cup final at 400 yards.

            Allred’s Circle City, a full-brother to the stakes winning Nomadic, returned from a layoff with an impressive performance of his own, as he posted the fastest qualifying time to the Grade 2, $204,200 Golden State Derby after winning his trial by 1 ¼ lengths on Sunday night at Los Alamitos.

            Ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby, the same jockey/trainer duo that joined forces with Nomadic in the Governor’s Cup, Circle City took the lead from the opening of the gate and flew out of there on the way to enjoying a two length lead at the midway point of the 400-yard race before cruising to the finish line in a time of :19.654. Sired by Favorite Cartel and out of the stakes winning mare Moonlight Corona, Circle City defeated an outstanding field in the second of two trials on Sunday night. His rivals in this trial included two-time derby winner Tell Cartel, who entered the trials ranked number five in the AQHA Racing National Poll, the undefeated Taco Twosday and Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes winner Sass Mo Blue to just mention a few.

            Circle City’s winning time in this trial was more than 19/100ths of a second faster than the next fastest qualifier, who was Tell Cartel with a time of :19.851. Bred by Allred, the gray gelding improved to five wins in 10 career starts. The runner-up in the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity last year, Circle City came into this race after finishing out of the money in the Dillingham Handicap on May 16. Looking to sharpen the horse following that result, Willoughby gave Circle City a 220-yard turn-and-work on July 22 and the talented runner responded with a sharp :12.40 clocking.

            “He was doing really well,” Willoughby said. “We turned him out just for a little bit - a few weeks – just to let him freshen up. It seemed to help him quite a bit. We gave him a short work just to brighten him up and get him ready to go. It seems like it worked out well. Having the outside post (nine) worked well for him too. He broke well, he got away great and Vinnie did a great job letting him run. He put it all together tonight.”

            Circle City will now headline a terrific cast of 10 sophomores that qualified to the Golden State Derby final on August 16. He will look to join his brother and stablemate Nomadic on the list of derby winners at Los Alamitos this season. 

            “The two full brothers are pretty sharp,” Willoughby added. “They are hard to beat when they are running well. Nomadic was the fastest qualifier last time and Circle City is the fastest qualifier this time. Maybe we can have the same result (a derby win) with Circle City. Hopefully, he comes back and runs well in the final.”

            Mimi Wells’ Tell Cartel, a colt by Favorite Cartel, was fifth at the start, but he started flying in the second half of the race on the way to running second to Circle City. Ruben Lozano piloted the Matt Fales-trained Tell Cartel, who has been the meet’s top sophomore thanks to his wins in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby. He will have a chance to make a derby triple in a fortnight’s time.

            Howard Nichols’ Long Time Favorite posted the third fastest qualifying time of :19.951 after upsetting the 1-2 favorite You Can Run in the opening trial. Ridden by Oscar Andrade Jr. for trainer Jose Flores, Long Time Favorite flew out of the gate to a 1 ¼ length lead and did enough to hold off You Can Run’s late rush by a neck.

            “This horse always showed us a lot of talent,” Flores said. “I’m just glad Howard and his wife, Laurie, were patient and let the horse develop. Hopefully, he can break like that and finish like that in the final. He had never quite left the gate, but tonight he left. That was the key.”

            Howard Nichols grew up farming and roping in Arizona. His family owned two legendary horses in Driftwood and AQHA World Champion Clabber, who was campaigned by his grandfather, Abe Nichols. Laurie Nichols grew up in Northern California and was around racehorses as well as show horses. She was actively involved in barrel racing and has enjoyed wins in disciplines like jumping, halter and working cowhorses. Bred by Thomas Bradbury and Vaughn Cook, Long Time Favorite picked up his third victory in 16 starts.

            The complete list of qualifiers to the Golden State is as follows: Circle City (:19.654), Tell Cartel (:19.851), Long Time Favorite (:19.951), Taco Twosday (:19.967), You Can Run (:19.980), Pay Me In Front (:20.114), BF Field Notes (:20.127), Sass Mo Blue (:20.239), Spring Favorite (:20.252) and Corona Required (:20.264).   

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