Johnny T rotter’s Hez Our Secret will run in the $750,000 Champion of Champions for the second straight year after his connections accepted the invitation to participate in the 440-yard race to be held on Saturday, December 14. Hez Our Secret replaces Zia Park Championship winner DM Streakn Through Fire, who earlier this week declined the invitation due to unforeseen circumstances.
“The main reason is that the weather delayed the running of Zia Park Championship,” said DM Streakn Through Fire’s trainer Mike Joiner, referring to the postponement of the race due to severe inclement weather. The race was moved from Saturday, November 23 to Wednesday, November 27.
“The delay shortened the time between the Zia Park Championship and the Champion of Champions from three weeks to 18 days,” Joiner added. “That’s not enough time to travel to Los Alamitos and have the horse close to 100 percent ready for the race. We were going to be up against it. I think Hez Our Secret will deliver a great performance in the Champion of Champions and that’s what you want in that type of a race. We would have loved to have been a part of it, but we didn’t feel like we had enough time.”
Hez Our Secret received the invitation thanks to his second place finish in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Trial. The son of First Down Dash won the Z. Wayne Griffin last year and went on to run fourth in the Champion of Champions on the way to earning the title of AQHA champion 3-year-old colt. Trained by Trey Wood, Hez Our Secret finished second to Ochoa in the Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and third to Rylees Boy in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship earlier this season.
“I feel pretty lucky,” said Johnny Trotter, the owner of Hez Our Secret. “We get another shot at the Champion of Champions. He’s run second to (Ochoa) twice. We were hoping to get another chance in the Champion of Champions, but (Significant Heart) outbroke him in the Z. Wayne Griffin. We are just thankful to be in the Champion of Champions.”
Ochoa, the nation’s top ranked older horse, is one of the headliners in next Saturday’s Champion of Champions. The field will also feature defending Champion of Champions winner Rylees Boy, Last To Fire, Check N Fetch, Matabari, Vodka With Ice, Feature Hero, Priceless Feature and Significant Heart.