LARC NEWS Posted: 1/24/2021 10:58:47 PM



        Brenda and Roman Figueroa acquired Up For Speed as part of a private transaction just a few days prior to the trials to the Grade 1, $157,750 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

          Their new runner wasted no time to make an impact, as Up For Speed finished with tremendous power to win his trial to the Brad McKinzie, while also posting the fastest qualifying time to the February 14 final. With Raul Valenzuela aboard for trainer Roman Figueroa, Up For Speed covered the 400 yards in :19.631 over a track labeled as sloppy.

          “I did not do much to win this race,” said Figueroa with a smile. “He’s a new purchase and was in top shape when he came to my barn. I’m glad that he liked the off track. We’re off to a good start with him, but we knew that he was very talented horse. He got a clean break and finished very strong.”

          Up For Speed, a gelding by Favorite Cartel out of the Governor’s Cup Futurity winning mare Up For It, was third as the start of this race, but accelerated in a big way in the second half to beat A Ransom Handicap winner Mr Ricks by a half-length. Up For Speed previously raced for owner and breeder Ed Allred and trainer Scott Willoughby, winning his trials to the Governor’s Cup Derby and PCQHRA Breeders Derby. He came back to run second in the finals to both of those derbies.

          “He’s always been a really good horse,” Figueroa said. “I’m thrilled to see him run another big race.”

          Reliance Ranches LLC’s Mr Ricks, a finalist to the Los Alamitos Super Derby last year and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in 2019, ran second throughout this trial on the way to finishing with the second fastest qualifying time of :19.694. The gelding by Mr Jess Perry has now finished in the money in six of his last eight starts, including four of his last five at Los Alamitos. Oscar Peinado piloted the McColee Land & Livestock LLC-bred runner for trainer Mike Robbins.

          Adolfo and Eduardo Perez’s Pay Me In Front had the lead during the first part of the trial before settling for third and also the third fastest qualifying time of :19.711.  A Super Derby finalist in his last start, the gelding by FDD Dynasty was ridden by Jose Nicasio for trainer Monty Arrossa.

          The second trial of the night went to Rosenthal Ranch LLC’s outstanding gelding Powerful Favorite, who has now won 10 of his last 14 starts while finishing in the money in everyone of those outings. In his Brad McKinzie trial, the son of Favorite Cartel took the lead shortly after the start and cruised from there to a ¾ length victory. Eduardo Nicasio piloted the Chris O’Dell-trainee to the fourth fastest qualifying time of :19.721.

           “He ran so good tonight,” O’Dell said. “We all know he can run, but on a (sloppy track) you never know how they’re going to do. Fortunately, with a horse like Powerful Favorite, they take their track with them. They do their job. He’s a champ. He just won an award from the AQHA for reaching Supreme Racehorse status. Now he comes and gets another win. He has to be the barn favorite. He’s just a cool horse.”

          The winner of the (GI) Los Alamitos Winter Derby in 2019, Powerful Favorite will set his sights on becoming only the third horse to win the Winter Derby and Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship. Whosleavingwho and A Stoli Mate are the only two to have accomplished this feat. In addition to his victory in the Winter Derby two years ago, Powerful Favorite won the Go Man Go Handicap (GI) and finished third in the Champion of Champions (GI) last year. He also won the (GIII) El Primero Del Año Derby and Governor’s Cup Derby two years ago.

          “I’ve gone through a lot with him and those good ones are like that,” O’Dell added. “I’ve had a lot of good horses over the years and Catchmeinyourdreams and Powerful Favorite are right there neck and neck among my best. They have both had a lot of things to overcome. I’ve had a lot of other fast horses, but these types of horses, they are special. Catchmeinyourdreams ran until he was eight and won his last start. Powerful Favorite is now five and continues to run at a high level. They overcome things and you just work with them trying to keep things lined up right. We sure are happy tonight.”

          Allred’s Doctor Gene finished with the fifth fastest time of :19.815 following his runner-up effort to Powerful Favorite. Also sired by Favorite Cartel, Doctor Gene was saddled by Willoughby and ridden by Oscar Andrade, Jr. Doctor Gene won the Town Policy Handicap last year and was third to Mr Ricks in the A Ransom.  

          The opening trial went to Connie Nutt and Turner Farms’ Jess Macho Corona, who has now won back-to-back starts after scoring in the First Down Dash Handicap on December 19. That was the first stakes win of Oklahoma-bred gelding’s career. Sired by Corona Cartel, Jess Macho Corona was ridden to victory in this trial by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones.

          “He’s sharp right now and seemed to handle this track well,” Jones said. “It was an off-track when he ran second in the All American Derby (in 2019). He’s had a lot of nice races over his career and what he’s needed is just a little more luck. He’s earned over $600,000 and he finally won his first stakes race last time out. He’s been right there in many races like the Vessels Maturity, All American Derby and Golden State Million Futurity. He’s been knocking on the door. He’s been a good horse and luckily, he is still a good horse. Maybe he can get it done and win some big races as a 5-year-old. I would like to have more like him.”

          Jess Macho Corona’s winning time of :19.850 was the seventh fastest of the night. In the Brad McKinzie final, Jones will also saddle Bos Time Machine, the winner of this race last year. He finished with the sixth fastest time of :19.826 after running third to Powerful Favorite. Owned by Dee and Gary Hoovestal, Bos Time Machine will look to join BH Lisas Boy and Whosleavingwho as the third horse to win this race twice.  

          Here’s the complete list of qualifiers to the Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship: Up For Speed (:19.631), Mr Ricks (:19.694), Pay Me In Front (:19.711), Powerful Favorite (:19.721), Doctor Gene (:19.815), Bos Time Machine (:19.826), Jess Macho Corona (:19.850), Made Over (:19.851), Sepertist Dash (:19.889), and Red Hawk Cartel (:19.897).


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