LARC NEWS Posted: 6/19/2023 5:58:05 AM


        Six years after Keith Nellesen’s AQHA champion KVN Corona won the richest race of his brilliant career in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity his son Political Rivalry became the stallion’s first Grade 1 stakes winner after holding off a late rush by Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Rockin With Energy to win the $900,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity by a head on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

       Bred by Nellesen and Lance Robinson’s McColee Land & Livestock LLC, Political Rivalry led the 350-yard race from gate to wire on the way to improving his record to four wins in as many starts.  Ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo for trainer Heath Taylor, Political Rivalry covered the distance in :17.633 while earning a winner’s share of the purse of $361,200. Entering the race as the 3-2 favorite, the gelding out of Apollitical Zoom flew out post number eight to establish an early ¾ length lead. Rockin With Energy shaved a ¼ length off that lead by the midway point of the race, but in the end Political Rivalry had enough octane left in the tank to successfully duplicate his sire’s victory in the Ed Burke Million.  

       Robinson was on hand to accept the trophy on behalf of Nellesen and the highly respected breeder noted the importance of the moment for the talented sire KVN Corona.  

      “This means a lot,” Robinson said. “I don’t know if I can put it into words how much it means. We’ve always believed in KVN Corona. We’ve pretty much bred all our mares to him. We’ve supported him from day one when he went to stud. We think he has such terrific looking babies. We needed this to happen.

     “This is a great deal. We were at the sale last year and Keith said, ‘we need to support (KVN Corona) beyond the breeding shed.’ Keith started buying the better (yearlings), the ones we thought were the better ones to run. This is a big deal. It’s a big deal for Keith, a big deal.”

      So far in 2023, the sons and daughters of KVN Corona has been outstanding, particularly at Los Alamitos. The 2017 Ed Burke winner had three juveniles qualify to the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity held last month. He had three more qualifiers to the Sunday’s Ed Burke. In addition, Political Rivalry, the KVN Corona colt Kevins Wise Corona finished third in the Ed Burke final. The other qualifier sired by KVN Corona was Talk Bout Somethin, who was a late scratch on Sunday.    

     “We wanted any of the three KVNs to win but we really wanted (Political Rivalry) to win, obviously,” Robinson added.

    Nellesen, who is usually in attendance supporting his horses, was on the other side of the United States, supporting his daughter, Preslee, who was competing in the National Junior High Rodeo Finals at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, Georgia. Preslee qualified to nationals for the barrel racing competition.

     “Keith wishes he was here,” Robinson added “A herd of wild horses couldn’t keep him away from (Los Alamitos) on a night like this, but his little daughter could. (Keith) is where he needs to be. (Preslee) ran today. He’s a good rodeo daddy and he needs to be there with his daughter.”

      Taylor, the reigning AQHA champion trainer, would have loved to have been joined in the winner’s circle by the Nellesens on Ed Burke night, but the trainer knew that the family had other highly important competitions to attend.  

       “His daughter had a very prestigious, important barrel race in Georgia,” Taylor added. “He’s super supportive of his kids. Owning the sire and dam, you can imagine how badly he wanted to be out here, but he had (other) commitments and decided to stay in Georgia.”

       Back in California, Political Rivalry kept his connections busy while in the paddock.

        “He got a little hot,” Taylor said. “He got stirred up. I think we need to back off just a little bit, maybe freshen him up, do some schooling in the paddock, and let his mind slow down a little bit.

         “He’ll probably be a little tired after this. He’s made (nearly) $400,000 in four races. He’ll get all the time he needs. We’ll go from there. I was little worried as to how hot he was. He couldn’t wait. He was antsy- antsy. He got a little bit hot in the trials, but not this hot. I was a little concerned about how he would be.”

      Taylor opted to make as few changes as possible between the trials and the Ed Burke final.

      “When you have the fastest time and the horse has not lost a race, you hate to change a lot going into a million-dollar race. Often times, that’s when you make a mistake. The old-timers used to say ‘pressure busts pipes.’ You start making a bunch of changes and often you get beat. Now that the finals are over, we probably need to do some schooling and treat the horse a little bit different.”

      Following is hard-fought win in the Ed Burke, Political Rivalry can take it easy for the next few months, having already earned $378,178.

        “We’ll let the horse tell us,” Taylor said. “The horse is paid into the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, he’s paid into the Golden State Million Futurity, he’s paid into the Los Alamitos Two Million, I think he’s paid into the El Primero, and the Los Alamitos Super Derby. The horse has done phenomenal for us. He doesn’t owe anybody anything. We got him ready pretty early for the (Robert Adair) Kindergarten, so he’s had a lot of early seasoning, so we probably need to back off a little bit and freshen him off. He’ll have a little time. He’s not in anything until the Breeders Futurity. At one time we thought that if he won something like this, maybe we would take the horse to the All American. However, as well as the horse has run (at Los Alamitos) and how much he likes it here and being paid up to more than $3.5 million worth of races, as much as you’d like to win the All American, you have to go with what your horse is telling you. I think the (All American) option is open but more than likely he’ll stay here for the fall races.”

       Ridden by Irving Lara for trainer Paul Jones, the Parsons-bred Rockin With Energy earned $146,200 for her outstanding second place finish at 18-1 odds. The filly by Parsons Rock out of the tremendous producer Terrific Energy was saddled by trainer Paul Jones.  

    Jones also saddled Parsons Ranch’s Kevins Wise Corona to a third place finish. Ridden by Henry Reynoso Lopez, the KVN Corona colt earned $103,200. HRH Royal Cartel finished fourth and was followed across the wire by Hot Prodigy, Seperate Heart, Change Happens, and Heza Good Reason.



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