PROJECT LEADER UPSETS STELLAR FIELD AT 1,000 YARDS
The longest shot on the board at odds of 15-1, Project Leader led from start to finish to beat one of the best fields assembled for a 1,000-yard race this season when holding off Harbor Beach Handicap winner Sokudo by a half-length in the eighth race on Saturday night.
Owned by the partnership of Richard Meister, Mary Clare and George Schmitt and Marcia Stortz, who also trains the 3-year-old colt, Project Leader was facing older horses in this race – a seasoned group that had to win 17 races this year. Project Leader had previously finished second at this distance to Grant Paulson’s 4-year-old gelding Chico Baby, but also scored a victory at this distance on April 26. His experience at 1000 yards paid off, as he took off right from the start, opened a 1 ½ length lead and then remained strong throughout the stretch run to fend off the red-hot Sokudo.
Ridden by Christian Aragon to a winning time of :52.141, Project Leader posted his fourth win in 12 career starts. Sired by Run Brother Run and bred by the Schmitts and Meister, this was his third win of the year.
In the Quarter Horse feature of the night, Reliance Ranches’ Invader made a winning return to Los Alamitos Race Course, as he defeated a field of $20,000 claimers while covering the 300-yard distance in :15.645. Invader, who ran fourth in last year’s John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge, had been racing at Remington Park and Ruidoso Downs before heading back to Southern California. Invader will now be racing for the connections of Paul Penuelas and Valentin Zamudio, as they paid the $20,000 claiming price for the son of Tres Seis.
Legacy Ranch’s talented juvenile Twostrikesurprise was very impressive in his return to action on Saturday, as he enjoyed his first career victory after posting a 1 ¼ length win over a group of maidens in the evening’s fifth race. The son of Favorite Cartel was making his first start since debuting with a third place finish to eventual Governor’s Cup Futurity finalist Single Brad on May 23. Twostrikesurprise is eligible to compete in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity to be held on November 22. Jesus Rios Ayala piloted the homebred runner for trainer Terry Knight. He covered the 300 yards in a solid time of :15.478.