LARC NEWS Posted: 1/18/2023 10:15:44 PM

EMPRESSUM IS NAMED AQHA WORLD CHAMPION

       The Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos Race Course was billed as “a race for the ages” and that proved prophetic, as its victor, Empressum, was crowned the 2022 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse at the AQHA Racing Champions Announcement Ceremony January 18 at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City.

       He is bred and raced by the partnership of Jeff Jones and Steve Holt, and was also named champion aged gelding and champion aged horse.

      Empressum was the 2021 champion 3-year-old, and he came back as a 4-year-old to win four of six starts and earned $587,896.

     The son of  Apollitical Jess out of the First Down Dash mare Crazy Down Corona, his first start of his world champion year was a second-place run in the January 2 Championship at Sunland Park (G1), which was a 2021 race delayed until the new year by weather. His remaining starts were at Los Alamitos, and he won his Vessels Maturity (G1) trial and then won the final by nearly 2 lengths.

       In the 400-yard Go Man Go Handicap (G1), he ran an otherworldly race, clocking the fastest final eighth in more than a decade. The gelding was then second in the Robert L. Boniface Invitational Championship (G1). In the Champion of Champions (G1), he faced a field that included 2021 World Champion Danjer, and defeated that rival by more than a length. M. Heath Taylor trained Empressum, who was ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo.

       Kiss Thru Fire returned as the champion aged mare for breeder and owner Gentry Farms. The daughter of champion mare Fredaville, the Walk Thru Fire-sired mare won four of seven starts and earned $187,625.

      She was trained by Juan G. Aleman and ridden by Jesus Ayala, Diego Herrera and Ramon Sanchez during her racing season that saw her win the Charger Bar Handicap (G1), Abigail Kawananakoa Stakes, California Breeders Matron Stakes (RG3) and Las Damas Handicap (G2).

      World Champion Empressum’s half-brother Hes Judgeandjury was named champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old gelding. The son of Hes Relentless out of the First Down Dash mare Crazy Down Corona also races for their breeder/owners Jeff Jones and Steve Holt and is trained by M. Heath Taylor.

     Hes Judgeandjury was ridden by James Flores and Rodrigo Vallejo during his eight starts in which he earned $1,931,167. He was third in the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and fifth in the Rainbow Futurity (G1), won the All American Futurity (G1) and was third in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1).

     The winner of the Los Al Two Million, Cyber Attack, earned champion 2-year-old colt honors. He is raced by Rosenthal Ranch LLC, was trained by Christopher O’Dell and ridden by Eduardo Nicasio. Cyber Attack, who was bred by Dr. Steve D. Burns, is by Favorite Cartel and out of the Corona Cartel mare Remember Me Rose. He won four of seven starts and earned $1,151,917. In addition to his season-ending victory, he also was second in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) and second in the Golden State Million Futurity (G1).

     Golden Boi, the 2021 champion 2-year-old colt, fortified his resume in 2022 as champion 3-year-old colt. The son of Favorite Cartel out of the Toast To Dash mare Logans Dash races for his breeder, M and G Farms Inc. He was trained by Valentin A. Zamudio and ridden by Ruben Lozano to win four of six starts and earn $232,856. His year was highlighted by victories in the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap and El Primero Del Ano Derby (G2), as well as a third-place finish in the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1).

     Dr. Steve D. Burns has been named the sport’s champion breeder for the second time. He bred 816 starters during the year and saw them win 120 starts and earn $4,354,939. Among them were champion Cyber Attack and Grade 1 winner Bomb Cyclone.

    Partners Jeff Jones and Steve Holt’s year in racing is one in which legends are made and are honored as the champion owners. They raced only two homebred horses – including world champion Empressum and champion 2-year-old Hes Judgeandjury – and saw them win nine of 14 starts and earn $2,519,063, as well as bringing home the trophies for two of the sport’s most prestigious races – the All American Futurity and Champion of Champions.

    The trainer for the champion owners, M. Heath Taylor, earned the AQHA Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer title. The Louisiana-based trainer saddled 479 horses and led all trainers with $5,099,845 in earnings. James Flores earns the champion jockey title for the third time in four years after winning 57 of 328 starts and earn $3,941,248. His year was highlighted by a victory in the All American Futurity aboard champion Hes Judgeandjury.  Complete list of champions is available at AQHA.com. 

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