BARN’S NEW ARRIVAL WINS THE ADEQUAN CALIFORNIA DERBY AT LOS ALAMITOS
Making his first start for his new connections, the 23-1 longshot Up The Interest broke sharply, took the lead in the early stages of the race and never looked back on the way to winning the $41,233 Adequan California Regional Derby Challenge on Sunday night at Los Alamitos.
An Oregon-bred gelding by Seperate Interest out of the Grade 1 winning mare Kiddy Up Cowgirl, Up The Interest was acquired privately by owner Eleazar Gonzalez of Spokane, Washington less than a month before the running of the Adequan. Bred by David and Leah Nelson, Up The Interest showed a lot of promise as a 2-year-old, winning two of his first three starts during his lightly raced juvenile campaign. In his stakes debut, Up The Interest had a troubled outing when finishing out of the money in the Holiday Handicap in his final freshman start. He struggled in his next three starts, which led to his connections making him available to interested buyers.
That’s when trainer Sergio Morfin stepped in for Eleazar Gonzalez.
“Sergio did it all,” Gonzalez said. “We talked about it and agreed to purchase the horse. Sergio took care of the rest from there, as he made the deal happen.”
Gonzalez and Morfin have enjoyed success finding other available horses at Los Alamitos. Last year, the connections claimed Mahomes Magic, who went on to qualify to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and has since finished third in the Grade 2 El Primero Del Ano Derby and second in the Dillingham Handicap.
“Sergio is the one who has selected the horses,” Gonzalez said. “I provide the funds to purchase the horses and he does the rest. We have a lot of trust between us. I’ve only been doing this for about two to three years. Our family has always enjoyed horses. I’m fortunate to have the support of my family, my wife, my children, and that means a lot to me.”
The owner of a chain of restaurants in Spokane, Gonzalez travels to Los Alamitos every chance he gets to enjoy his horses’ performances at the Orange County track.
“We travel from there to watch our horses run whenever we can do so. We’ve been lucky to have these types of horses, but of course Sergio has a great eye for the horses. That’s been so important.”
Ridden by Juan Pablo Leon from the outside post number 10, Up The Interest surprised a quality field in the Adequan that included 2022 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner Chicks First Flash and Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby third place finisher Normandy. However, it was David Hinkins’ Grade 2 El Primero finalist Price Fixer who ran second to Up The Interest in this race.
“This horse was for sale, and I liked him a lot,” Morfin added. “He was a very good horse with lots of class. I talked to Eleazar and he said, ‘Yes, let’s get him.’ Fortunately, it’s gone well for us.”
Up The Interest finished a neck ahead of Price Fixer while covering the 400 yards in :20.054. Now a three-time winner for eight career starts, Up The Interest earned $18,968 for the win to more than double his career earnings to $35,777. The win also earned Up The Interest a berth to the Adequan Derby Challenge Championship which will be held at Lone Star Park later this year.
“He could go,” Morfin said. “We’ll see what other opportunities we have and if everything goes well, we could be going to Lone Star.”
Ridden by Rodrigo Aceves for trainer Adan Farias, Price Fixer earned $8,246 for his runner-up effort in the Adequan California Derby. The Favorite Cartel colt has finished in the money in seven of his 11 career starts. Ronnie Brooks Keller’s Normandy earned $4,124 for his third-place finisher. He was bumped at the start but finished strongly for the show placing. Blaine Bateman’s Suite Caroline, the winner of the Wild West Futurity last year, finished fourth and was followed across the wire by Chisum, Chicks First Flash, Budder Off Friends, Five Bar Knockout, One Famous Commando, and Dashas Dynasty.