LARC NEWS Posted: 3/27/2023 2:16:00 AM


       Hes Chickless has provided several sentimental and memorable victories for owner Jeryl Hartley and her daughter, Dana Collum. The colt by Hes Relentless has been the most notable racing star for Hartley since she decided to continue the racing program established by her late husband, the popular horseman Ron Hartley, who passed away three years ago.

        For Jery Hartley, Hes Chickless has won six of 12 career starts including her first stakes win as sole owner when he posted a daylight victory in the Ah Sigh Stakes on October 30. Understandably, the victory filled Jeryl Hartley with emotions, as she recalled many great win that she and Ronnie enjoyed at Los Alamitos.

     On Sunday night, Hes Chickless provided another unforgettable moment for Jeryl and her daughter, as the sorrel torpedo overcame some bumping at the start to pull away to an early lead in the Grade 2, $195,200 El Primero Del Año Derby at Los Alamitos. From there, Hes Chickless held off a bigtime late rush from JGA Racing’s multiple Grade 1 winner Party Politics to secure the El Primero by a neck.

     Hes Chickless’ El Primero win was the richest and also first graded stakes victory for Jeryl Hartley since she decided to continue her family’s racing legacy at Los Alamitos.

      “(Ronnie) is proud of us,” Jeryl said. “I can’t believe that we are still going.”

      “He’s with us,” said Dana about her father. “I was screaming and was so excited during the race. I whipped myself all the way to the winner’s circle. We are down to just a handful left and Sergio is doing a great job with them.

       “It’s been tough and hard going on without my dad, but we are trying our best and trying to keep the good ones. We have to sell some also. We have three Cartel Jess Rockin babies on the ground right now. She’s our last broodmare. We only kept her as a broodmare.” 

      Cartel Jess Rockin famously won the 2019 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity at 20-1 odds in the last race called by Ed Burgart before retiring from his full-time duties as the track announcer here. Jeryl Hartley was there in the winner’s circle with Ron Hartley on that night an even now, she has continued to be an ever present figure at Los Alamitos whenever her runners compete.

    “We tried not to miss any of our races,” Dana.

     “None,” Jeryl added when asked if she had missed any. “This win will make the drive home fly. Ronnie used to say that (driving home) is a lot easier when you win. It’s not as long a drive.”

      After shaking off his early trouble, Hes Chickless was on the fast track to winning the El Primero at odds of 17-1. Jockey Cruz Mendez made sure to keep the longshot engaged even as Party Politics was on the chase with vengeance. In the end, Party Politics was not able to catch Hes Chickless. The victory earned him $81,984 to take his career earnings to $140,241. Hes Chickless covered the 400 yards in :19.789.

    “The horse had been training really well,” Morfin said. “It was just that in his last two races he had not had any luck. He had been bumped in those previous two outings. This time he broke really well and all I could say was ‘hold on, hold on, hold on.”

     Hes Chickless was previously trained by the venerable John Cooper, who retired at the end of 2022 campaign. When it came time to choose his predecessor, Cooper recommended Morfin. Surely watching the El Primero from his home in Nampa, Idaho, Cooper must be proud to see the accomplishment of Hes Chickless, Hartley and Morfin.

      “We talk to the Coopers all the time, after every race,” Jeryl Hartley said. “They’ll call, they’ll watch and I’m sure they’re happy for us.”

      Hes Chickless will have some time off and will be pointed to the PCQHRA Breeders Derby later this year.

      Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Juan Aleman, Party Politics earned $33,184 for his runner-up finish. He’s now earned nearly $900,000 in his career with his exact amount being $893,889.

       Morfin also saddled third place finisher Mahomes Magic for owner Eleazar Gonzalez. The Kentucky-bred colt by Favorite Cartel earned $23,424 for finishing third with Juan Pablo Leon up. The top three were followed across the wire by Dont Sass KVN, Turbeau, Chester Carlson, Price Fixer, Revenant Inside, Fire Pit, and Chickititas Cartel.    




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