LARC NEWS Posted: 10/9/2022 3:32:59 AM


       In a race featuring seven stakes, including five Grade 1 winners, four of them millionaires, two-time Champion of Champions winner Apollitical Pence took decisive control of the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship just a few blinks away from the gate in the 440-yard race and there was no catching him on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Not even the sensational Empressum, who has been the horse of the moment during the past four months at Los Alamitos, could keep up with Dunn Ranch’s Apollitical Pence, as the son of Apollitical Jess had a 1 ¾ length lead shortly after the start and from there he was strong enough to hold off Empressum’s bid to catch him in the later stages of the race.   

          Ridden by Armando Cervantes for trainer Monty Arrossa, Apollitical Pence put together a thunderous display of power in the Los Alamitos Championship, while sending a reminder to all challengers, that he still wears the Champion of Champions crown.   

          “This is probably the fastest that’s he’s broken out of the gate,” Cervantes said. “I just had to grab on because he flew out of the gate and I just kept him busy, just yelling at him, yelling at him and it paid off. He’s always drifted in a little bit. He was just trying to seek competition. I’m thankful for the owners and Monty for giving me this kind of horses to look good on. He took off like no other day. He was just gone. He was so fast. I didn’t see (Empressum) from when we started at the gate (until) towards like the wire, then I started seeing him a little bit, a glimpse.”

How did this commanding effort compare to his winning race in the 2021 Champion of Champions?

“He was better tonight, way better,” Cervantes said. “I’m telling you, this horse, (usually) he breaks and it’s a break that you can kind of control. This time it was impressive. I grabbed on the hardest I could because he bombed out of there.”

          Apollitical Pence crossed the wire ¾ lengths ahead of Empressum while covering the quarter mile race in :21.225, the fastest time in this race since 2011. The Dunn Ranch and Womack Cavender Farms-bred runner earned $61,250 for the win to take his career earnings to $1,623,235. After Empressum crossed the wire second, Valeriano Racing Stables’ Flash Bak, who was second by ¾ lengths in the Champion of Champions last year, finished third in this race, 3 ½ lengths behind Apollitical Pence.

          Does Arrossa agree with Cervantes that this effort by Apollitical Pence was better than his Champion of Champions win?

“Right now, in the moment, this was a great race. He ran great in the Champion of Champions; he ran phenomenal tonight. We are not three lengths better than Flash Bak. Flash Bak is a heck of a horse. I haven’t watched his trip. In the past, he hasn’t been real quick out of the gate, he’s a fast closer, I didn’t watch his trip. I just think we had a super trip tonight. Just before this race, Chris O’Dell asked me ‘did you work this horse when you got him here after coming from Ruidoso?’ I said no. We ponied him a lot. I think Armando has been on him here since I got him back from Ruidoso twice. That’s the two times I took him and stood him at the gate.”

Prior to this race, Apollitical Pence raced once at Ruidoso Downs, where he set the track record at 250 yards in the Labor Day Weekend Stakes on September 3. From there, Apollitical Pence had previously won the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 20.

          “This is the third year that we’ve sent that horse back to Ruidoso and we had never run him there,” Arrossa said.” We had always decided to wait to go to Albuquerque or we had some other plan with him. My team really pressed me this year to run him there. We weren’t sure if he was ready for the Gold Cup to go 440 and then they wrote a couple of stakes races. There was a 250 and a 350 and the 250 fill and it was the perfect race. It was a perfect set up. He ran a great race there, came out super. He loves Los Alamitos. This has been his home his whole life, really. He took my breath away. I expected him to run a good race, but not this good of a race.”

What’s next for Apollitical Pence with the $750,000 Champion of Champions just over two months away on December 10?

“Going forward, I’m not real sure,” Arrossa continued. “We’ve had good success running horses in the Z. Wayne prepping for the Champion of Champions. I think we’ll need a prep before the Champion of Champions. The Z. Wayne is a possibility. He’s been a real sound horse. The only issue we’ve ever really had with the horse is his feet. I have to give a lot of credit to our shoer, David Vargas. He’s spent a lot of time with the horse, and he’s got his feet in great shape. He’s a little thin sole and he’s had that all his life. David knows the horse and has done a great job with him.

“These are the kind of races you dream of. You want to run against the best of the best. Empressum is a great horse. His last two outs have been phenomenal. He ran a great race tonight. I was excited to run against him. I wanted to see how we sized up against him and see where we were at. We really had the perfect trip tonight. Anytime you run against this caliber of horses, these Grade 1 horse, the ones that are out here, especially, you don’t stub your toe. You have to have a perfect trip, a perfect go or anyone could have stepped up and beat you. Powerful Favorite is a great horse, Empressum, Flash Bak, Circle City is a great horse. It was a deep field for only being seven horses. The Champion of Champions will be every bit or tougher than this. We’ll just try to keep our horses fresh and happy and kind of pick our way,” Arrossa concluded.

Ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo for trainer Heath Taylor, Empressum earned $26,250 for the win to take his career earnings to $1,245,025 for owners/breeders Jeff Jones and Steve Holt.  Flash Bak, who was ridden by Oscar Peinado and Jaime Gomez, earned $13,125 for running third. Powerful Favorite, Other World, Circle City, and Mister Tornado completed the field.


          Owned by Johnny Trotter and bred by Julianna Hawn Holt, Famous Shining Star broke smartly from along the rail and picked up more and more speed from there on the way to scoring a ¾ length win the $35,000 Sound Dash Stakes on Saturday night.

          With Erasmo Gasca up for trainer Jose Flores, Famous Shining Star became a multiple stakes winner thanks to this victory. The filly by One Famous Eagle had previously won the Virginal Hyland Stakes March 13. She was also second in the Abigail Kawananakoa in June with this effort marking her seventh stakes race of the year.

         “She has so much heart,” Flores said. “If she gets out of there, she’s just as tough as anybody. Mr. Trotter send her with a reason, to get her some handicap wins. He did right in bringing her out here. There’s no other program quite this good at any other racetrack for older mares. This really works for this kind of mares. I hope she can continue this path and keep doing well here. We’re going to try the Las Damas, it’s a little quick back, and then back in the Charger Bar Handicap in January.”

          Famous Shining Star covered the 300 yards in :15.416 and earned $19,250 for the win. Gentry Farms’ In My Heart, a two-time stakes winner here, finished second. Go To Girl, Astranomical, More Than Looks, Catalina Rocket, La Reina Del Sur 1, and Reason To Fly Mv completed the field.


          Owned by Bradbury Racing, Robyn Gordon, Thompson Racing, et al, Majority Interest became a stakes winner after leaving the gate in form and powering through to take the $20,000 Corona Kool Stakes for sophomore fillies on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

          “It’s great to have her earn black type and to do it in a race named after the great Corona Kool,” Terry Thompson said. “This filly (Majority Interest) is so sound. She’s never really taken any time off and she’s always given a solid effort.”

          Majority Interest improved to five wins in 17 career starts. She covered the 350-yards in :17.883 while piloted by Henry Reynoso Lopez for trainer Paul Jones.

          Need A Favor, Run By Your Cartel, Candy Dice, Lovely Evening, and Relentless Valiance completed the field.


          After posting his first four career starts at Ruidoso Downs, Carmen Villalobos’ Bold N Brave enjoyed his Los Alamitos debut, winning the $20,000 Nuther Brother Stakes by a half-length in near gate to wire fashion. Ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo and trained by Heath Taylor, Bold N Brave was among the early leaders before taking a slight lead at the midway point of the 300-yard dash. The Corona Cartel gelding did not give up his advantage from there, instead he increased it to a ½ length while covering the distance in :15.584. This was the Julianna Hawn Holt-bred third win in five career starts. He earned $11,000 for his winning effort against eight rivals. AJ Run For Cash was second with Mr Secret Cartel finishing third.



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