TAKES A SWIG OF THIS DOMINATES LOS ALAMITOS WINTER DERBY ON SATURDAY NIGHT
Dunn Ranch’s Take A Swig Of This took control of the Grade 1, $183,350 Los Alamitos Winter Derby right from the first jump at the start and there was no looking back from there as the A Revenant gelding went on to post a two length victory over J. Francisco Diaz’s Good Wagon SA on Saturday night.
The impressive win also made the Weetona Stanley-bred Take A Swig Of This a stakes winner for the first time after coming a narrowly close in the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity last year. Second by a nose to multiple futurity winner Tres Crystal in that million-dollar race, Take A Swig Of This made sure no photo finish was needed in his second stakes appearance. With Eduardo Nicasio in the irons, the Texas-bred out of the unraced mare PYC Prize Doll flew to a 1 ½ length lead right out of the gate and by the midway point of the 400-yard derby he was up by two lengths on his rivals. At the wire, the Monty Arrossa-trained Take A Swig Of This covered the distance in :19.585 to record his third win in six career starts.
“Monty told me ‘If he breaks, the race is yours,’“Nicasio said. “When he left, I thought to ‘He broke!’ He felt super-fast. I was on the horse only once before. I took him to the gate and he didn’t move. I thought, if he is this relaxed in the final, we’ll be just fine. You work hard to be in a race like this. It’s not just for me, but for everyone that’s involved with the horse.”
Nicasio picked up the mount on Take A Swig Of This in place of Armando Cervantes, who had ridden the brown gelding to a ¾ length victory in the derby trials. Cervantes also won a derby trial aboard fastest qualifier Ghost Witha Fire for Dunn Ranch and qualified Five Livestock LLC and Steve Wright’s Chicks First Flash.
“Armando Cervantes did a great job getting these three horses to qualify,” said Arrossa, who trains all three horses. “It was a tough choice for (Armando) to make. He picked Ghost for the final. Eduardo Nicasio, they don’t come any better than him. He’s class and when the money is down, he’s as tough as there is. He rode Katies Easy Moves for me and some other real nice horses for me. Anytime I need help, he’s right there to help me out. We were fortunate to have him. He’s a world class jockey.”
Take A Swig Of This is the first Grade 1 winner for the Dunn Ranch-owned stallion A Revenant, who was the AQHA 2-year-old champion colt during his racing career and is the sire of last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, Revenant Moon.
“Dunn Ranch has been super supportive and have invested a lot in this business, not only with the racehorses but with the breeding end and the barrel end,” Arrossa noted. “They run a big operation. They own A Revenant. We have a number of these A Revenant horses that are really starting to mature as 3-year-olds.
“Weetona Stanley and her son Fred, they have a breeding program that’s second to none,” Arrossa continued. “We have a couple of 2-year-olds for them that we’ll be bringing them out to Los Alamitos for the Ed Burke, Golden State and the Los Alamitos Two Million. Fred follows Swig a lot and he’s been after me for a win picture. We’re going to get him a win picture for this final as well.”
For Arrossa, who won this race last with Scoops Dynasty, it would certainly be all about the start of the race for Take A Swig Of This and his two other trainees.
“I knew it was critical for (Take A Swig Of This) to break,” Arrossa added. “I felt so good about him after the trials. All three of the horses were doing great after the trials. Physically, he started dappling. His hair coat looked outstanding. I told Nicasio that if this horse breaks, I felt as good about him as any of my three horses in this race. He broke and ran a great race. I can’t say enough about our team.”
A key part of the Arrossa team on this derby is Ignacio Montes, who groomed all three of the barn’s Winter Derby qualifiers. ‘Nachito’, as he’s known around the barn, has watched over many top horses at Los Alamitos over the years.
“He’s done a great job with them,” Arrossa said. “He lives with them and keeps them happy.”
Take A Swig Of This earned $77,007 for the win to take his career earnings to $280,097.
“He’ll probably go back to Oklahoma. He just missed winning the Heritage Place Futurity last year. He’s in the Heritage Place Derby so he’ll probably go back there for the Heritage Derby and we may then go to Ruidoso for the All American Derby. He’ll be back for the Los Alamitos Super Derby later in the year.”
Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, last year’s top Quarter Horse jockey at Los Alamitos, Good Wagon SA earned $31,169 following a huge late run in which he moved up from 10th place at the start to finish second for trainer Lindolfo Diaz. Ronnie Brooks Keller’s Normany ran solid from start to finish, as he was the closest pursuer of Take A Swig Of This during the early going before getting nabbed at the end by Good Wagon SA. Ridden by Jose Nicasio for trainer Roman Figueroa, Normandy earned $22,002. The top three finishers were followed by Interesting Eagle, Dont Sass KVN, Ghost Witha Fire, Hay Shaker, Chicks First Flash, Hes Chickless, and Jettin Gigi.