Juan Ramon Dorantes’ sophomore star John Carter Cash was swift out of the gate and then left his older rivals behind on the way to completely dominating the Grade 2, $44,132 Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship Challenge here on Friday night.
Ridden by Ruben Lozano for trainer Valentin Zamudio, John Carter Cash won the Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship by 2 ½ lengths to give him one of the biggest margins of victory posted this season. The Oregon-bred gelding by Carters Cartel covered the distance in :21.423 to improving his record to five wins in 14 career starts. The victory also earned the Ronald Raley-bred runner a starting berth in the Grade 1 Bank of America Championship Challenge to be held at The Downs at Albuquerque on October 24.
Mark and Peggy Brown’s Kissed By An Eagle finished second with J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearley’s Fenian Faith running third. Paul Jones and Thompson Racing’s Ballast Point was fourth with Jorge Haddad’s Santander running fifth to complete the field.
John Carter Cash has been big time performer at Los Alamitos this season. After winning three races, including the Pot O’ Gold Futurity at Sun Downs, during his freshman campaign, John Carter Cash began his 3-year-old year with a solid runner-up effort in the trials to the Los Alamitos Winter Derby. Fifth in the final to the outstanding Tell Cartel, John Carter Cash followed with a runner-up effort in an allowance event before posting a daylight victory in the Dillingham Handicap on May 16. He then finished a hard-fought second in the Vandy’s Flash Handicap before his connection turned their attention to the Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship.
“This will be a test for John Carter Cash,” Zamudio said prior to the running of the quarter-mile race. “It’ll be his first time against older horses and his first time at 440 yards.”
John Carter Cash aced both tests, as he was always in control of this event while pulling away with every stride during the later stages of this race.
“He broke with his head a bit up in the air, but he was comfortable a few more jumps into the race,” Lozano said. “He was never threatened from there. I did not see another horse near us during the race. I did not even have to look back. This was the first time I’ve ridden the horse. I knew he had been performing well and was improving with each race. He got the job done tonight.”
“You just hope that everything goes well and fortunately they did,” Zamudio said. “Anything can happen in a race, but fortunately he responded great. Since the horse came to my barn, I feel that he’s done a good job. He’s done everything we’ve asked from him. His owner is thrilled with him. He made the late payment of $30,000 for the Los Alamitos Super Derby, that’s how happy he is with the horse.”
Ramos Dorantes purchased John Carter Cash privately after the gelding finished fifth in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby.
“We had been following the horse for a while, ever since he came out here for the Wild West Futurity last year,” Zamudio added. “The owner wanted to purchase a horse and we had this one pegged for possible purchase. We could have bought him for a lower price, but then he ran a huge race in the Winter Derby trials. His price went up after that race and the Winter Derby final, yet we still bought him for what I still feel was a good price. I feel we made a good buy. The way he is running right now I feel he can make a good showing in the Los Alamitos Super Derby trials (on October 17). The Bank of America Championship is right around the time of the trials so we cannot do both. I will talk to the owner, but I think it is going to be tough to leave home. This race was a great opportunity for the horse, and he did his job. There were some outstanding horses in there, but he ran a great race and made a very tough job look easy.”
John Carter Cash earned $22,949 for this win to take his career earnings to $85,803. Second place finisher Kissed By An Eagle added $10,150 to his bankroll. He’s now earned $368,053 over his 25-race career. Fenian Faith earned $5,075 for running third.