Ochoa, the sport’s all-time leading money winner, and two-time Grade 1 winner Last To Fire each posted morning workouts this week in preparation for their meeting in the $750,000 Champion of Champions to be held on Saturday, December 14.
Owned by J Bar 7 Ranch LLC, Katsy and Monte Cluck and Doug Benson, Ochoa posted a 350 yard turn and work handily in :17.70 on Wednesday, November 20. A gelding by Tres Seis, Ochoa is training at Los Alamitos under the care of trainer Sleepy Gilbreath’s assistant, James Lackey. Lackey is a two-time winning jockey of the Champion of Champions. He won the race with First Down Dash in 1987 and Cash Rate in 1985. Ochoa can become the first Quarter Horse to go over $3 million in career earnings with a victory in the Champion of Champions. A winner of 11 of 15 starts, Ochoa’s current bankroll stands at $2,762,615. He would earn an additional $375,000 with a victory in the Champion of Champions.
Ochoa won the Grade 1 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship in his local debut here on October 13. The win earned him a berth to this year’s Champion of Champions. Roy Baldillez is expected to ride Ochoa in next month’s 440-yard classic.
Owned by Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas, Last To Fire worked 350-yards handily from the gate in :17.70 on Friday, November 22. Sired by Walk Thru Fire, Last To Fire has won seven of 18 career starts while earning $712,545. Trained by Jose De La Torre, Last To Fire won the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity on July 7 and the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap on September 15. Last To Fire won the Go Man Go in impressive fashion, as he crossed the wire 1 ¾ lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Eduardo Nicasio piloted Last To Fire. The field for the Champion of Champions will be completed on Saturday night with two berths being awarded. Saturday’s first automatic berth will go to the winner of the Zia Park Championship while the other will be awarded to the winner of the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial at Los Alamitos.
Defending Champion of Champions winner Rylees Boy, who also won the Los Alamitos Winter Championship earlier this year, All American Derby winner Feature Hero, Remington Park Championship winner Priceless Feature, Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap winner Check N Fetch, Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Matabari and Bank of America Championship winner Vodka With Ice are the other stars with berths to this year’s Champion of Champions.