LARC NEWS Posted: 11/13/2022 11:35:24 PM

APOLLITICAL PENCE, POWERFUL FAVORITE CAPTURE Z WAYNE GRIFFIN DIRECTORS TRIALS

10 NOW IN CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS FIELD

        Dunn Ranch's Apollitical Pence, with sights set on a third straight victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions, will enter the sport’s most prestigious race for Quarter Horses 3-year-olds and upwards in tip-top shape after a flawless victory in the first of two divisions to the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

        Apollitical Pence had already qualified to the Champion of Champions and took part in the Directors Trials as a prep for the December 10 final. With that in mind, it was mission accomplished for the son of Apollitical Jess, as he won the race convincingly, while posting the fastest time of the night of :19.391 at 400 yards.

         He’ll be joined in the Champion of Champions field by the four newest qualifiers: Powerful Favorite, Sweet Dasha Fire, Jessapolliticalgirl, and Cattail Cove, all of which qualified via the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on Sunday. The rest of the Champion of Champions field consists of AQHA World Champion Danjer, AQHA champion Empressum, All American Derby winner A Pollitical Candy V, Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Bomb Cyclone, and Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap winner Pattys Saint.

       Four Champion of Champions berths were up for grabs in the Z. Wayne Directors Trials with the horses with the second through fifth fastest times moving on to the 50th running of this Quarter Horse classic. Rosenthal Ranch’s Powerful Favorite won the second division by ¾ lengths and his time of :19.614 was the second fastest of the night. Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio for trainer Chris O’Dell, Powerful Favorite will make his career swan song in the Champion of Champions. 

       “We’ll get to see him one more race,” O’Dell said of Powerful Favorite. “How fun is this? To have two in the Champion of Champions and them be full brothers in Powerful Favorite and Bomb Cyclone. It’s really hard to believe. These two brothers, they just run. I can’t ask for anything more. Your whole life you just want to be in the Champion of Champions. I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been in the Champion of Champions many times, but I haven’t won one it. To have two in it, I feel like I’ve already won and by that I mean that it’s already a victory to have two in this great race. For all us, the Rosenthal camp, we’re all so happy. It’s amazing. We all say it’s a dream come true and it really is. This is what we work for.”

         Powerful Favorite earned $11,000 for winning the second division of the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial, which was also his 19th career win in 34 stars. His earnings now stand at $1,210,000. Next will be the matchup versus Danjer, Empressum, Apollitical Pence, and his younger brother, Bomb Cyclone, etc. 

        “What a field,” O’Dell added. “Million dollar horses in that race. It’s going to be a horse race. A lot of it will be where (horses) get lucky in the draw. Powerful Favorite he likes to be in the clear, himself.”

          Valeriano Racing Stables’ Sweet Dasha Fire is the only 3-year-old filly in the Champion of Champions, earning her spot thanks to her second place finish to Powerful Favorite when traveling in a time of :19.759. She was ridden to victory by Cruz Mendez and saddled by Jose Flores. The Washington-bred filly is by Walk Thru Fire and out of Dasha Freda, which makes her a full sister to 2015 Champion of Champions winner Heza Dasha Fire.

          Owned by Sergio Castillo and trained by Valentin Zamudio, Jessapolliticalgirl was second to Apollitical Pence, but her winning time of :19.774 was more than enough to earn a spot in the Champion of Champions field. Bred in Texas by Windy Acres Stable, the 5-year-old mare by Apollitical Jess has won six of 22 career starts and earned $178,035. She was third to Danjer in the Grade 1 The Downs At Albuquerque Fall Championship earlier this year. Ruben Lozano piloted Jessapolliticalgirl to the Champion of Champions via first trial.

         Owned by Link Newcomb, multiple stakes winner Cattail Cove earned the final qualifying time after his solid third place finish to Powerful Favorite. The Favorite Cartel gelding has danced just about every dance in his career and the Champion of Champions will certainly be the cherry on top for this horse’s great career. He’s finished third or better in 24 of 33 starts and the Champion of Champions will be his 22nd appearance in a stakes race. Ramon Sanchez piloted him for trainer Juan Aleman. Cattail Cove ran the distance in :19.776 on Sunday.

        Sent off at 1-9 in the first trial, Apollitical Pence, who carries the banner of Dunn Ranch and is conditioned by Monty Arrossa, immediately established control from the inside post and cruised to a 2 ½-length victory with Cervantes in the irons. The Dunn Ranch and Womack Cavender Farms-bred runner has won seven consecutive races. That includes wins in the 2021 Champion of Champions, the 2022 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship, and the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Winter Championship. He also won the Champion of Champions in 2020 and now looks to join Refrigerator as the only three-time winners of the Champion of Champions.

       “This horse is just amazing to ride,” Cervantes said. “He’s just a professional. He stood fine. We already know he took off like a rocket. Towards the middle of the track, I just kept him busy. We were just prepping him for the real deal, the Champion of Champions.”

          Apollitical Pence has certainly been a true pro during his winning streak, but what are the traits that make him such a pro?

         “It’s the way he stands in the gate,” Cervantes began. “I’ll tell you something, he might be calm right here (in the paddock area), but when he sees that gate, he starts to go, he starts to get into like a little dancing. The horse is just amazing.”

          The 50th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions will be held at Los Alamitos Race Course on Saturday, December 10.

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