The rail has been the place to be in stakes races during the month of December at Los Alamitos. Native Tea Rose won the Las Damas Handicap from post number one on December 8 before Last To Fire won Saturday’s Champion of Champions and Foose Cash SR won Sunday’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity with both starting from the inside rail.
The inside post position saw another stakes winner on Friday night, as Howard Nichols’ Jess Being Valiant held off Ruidoso Derby and Los Alamitos Super Derby finalist Kat Quick by a neck to win the $25,000 A Ransom Handicap at 350 yards. Piloted by Francisco Rubio for trainer Jaime Gomez, Jess Being Valiant was picking up his first win in five starts this year. The colt by Valiant Hero was coming off a second place finish in the Town Policy Handicap and earlier this year he was second in the Grade 1 Golden State Derby.
“This horse gives you his best every single race,” Nichols said. “We have been looking forward to this race for a while now and he did great. He’ll make his next start in the trials to the Los Alamitos Winter Championship (on January 26) and then we’ll give him a break. We’ll bring him back to race in the Vessels Maturity trials (on June 15), but that’s as far as we’ve planned for him in 2014. This stakes win is a great thing for him. He’s a colt so it’s an important victory. Our hope is to see him win a Grade 1 race next year.”
The A Ransom featured a quality field filled with graded stakes performers. In addition to Kat Quick and his exploits, the horses in the A Ransom included PCQHRA Breeders Derby finalist Dynasty Red, Governor’s Cup Derby finalist Jewel First Cat SA, El Primero Del Ano Derby finalist Tell Of The Past and even money favorite and Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner Remembering Spence.
“This was a Grade 1 type of a field,” Gomez added. “There were some nice runners in this race. It was a tough race. This horse only had one bad race this year and that’s when he finished fifth in his Super Derby trial.”
“He ended up with the 11th fastest qualifying time,” Nichols added about that trial race. “He ran 400 yards in :19.74 and the cut off time was :19.72. We barely missed it, but that’s racing.”
“I was depressed for a while after that race,” Gomez added. “This horse finished ahead of All American Derby winner Feature Hero in the Town Policy. He’s a really nice runner. This victory is a nice way to finish the year.”
Bred by Lance Robinson and Max Anderson, Jess Being Valiant covered the 350 yards in the A Ransom in a quick time of :17.37, which is one of the fastest of the season. Viva Mi Corazon has the fastest 350-yard time of the meet of :17.222. Jess Being Valiant earned $13,750 to take his career earnings to $135,023. This was his fourth win in 12 career starts.
Mike Akers and Pat and Kathie Guthrie’s Kat Quick earned $5,625 for running second. The son of FDD Dynasty finished ¾ lengths ahead of third place finisher Dynasty Red, which is owned by Spackman Racing and Lin Melton.
“It’s impressive for these two horses to beat this solid of a field by that big of a margin,” said Cody Joiner, who saddled Kat Quick. “My horse had no excuses. I’m proud of my horse. My jockey Raul Valenzuela said that Jess Being Valiant outbroke Kat Quick by about a neck and that’s how the two stayed the rest of the way. Raul said that he wouldn’t let Kat Quick get past him. My horse ran his guts off, but Jess Being Valiant ran a tremendous race.”
Saddled by Lin Melton, Dynasty Red earned $3,125 for running third. Redd Tailed Hawk, Tell Of The Past, Ivory Knight, Jewel First Cat SA, Ric Oh Shay and Remembering Spence, who had a very troubled trip, completed the field.