Ed Allred’s Once Over posted the fastest time of the year at 350 yards following a hard-fought victory over a quality group of older sprinters in the $25,000 Katella Handicap on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Rodrigo Aceves, Once Over broke sharply from the outside post seven and then outdueled the grade 1 stakes placed runner Seperate Interest and 2013 Champion of Champions finalist Significant Heart to win the Katella Handicap by a nose. Trained by Scott Willoughby, Once Over covered the distance in :17.309 to easily lower the meet’s fastest mark at this distance, which was previously :17.358 and was held by The Ocean King. Once Over has won back-to-back stakes races and has finished in the top two in three stakes events this year.
“Dr. Allred has been very patient with this horse,” Willoughby said. “This horse won his maiden in a time of :15.25 in his very first start so we knew that he could run. We were very high on him right from the start, but had had a lot of bad luck and everything went wrong for him as a 2 and 3-year-old. He ended up just barely missing a qualifying spot to the 2011 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, but we knew that he was a talented horse. He’s matured a lot with time. He’s paying a lot more attention. He’s going to the gate a lot easier. He’s putting everything together.”
Once Over began his 2014 campaign by finishing second in the 440-yard Barbra B Handicap before posting a 1 ¼ length victory in the Pete Wood Handicap at 350 yards. His latest victory now sets him up nicely for several important races this summer.
“We’re looking at the Vessels Maturity (trials will be held on Sunday, June 15) and also the Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap (on Saturday, July 26),” Willoughby added. “Hopefully we can get him in the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (on October 18).”
Once Over finished second in last year’s Spencer Childers and also traveled to Zia Park hoping to compete in the Zia Park Championship. The gelding did not field to the Championship and instead competed in the $55,000 Lovington Stakes in which he finished in fifth place.
“He did not weight into the race that we sent him out there for, but it’s worked out fine because he came back and he’s doing great right now. Rodrigo is also riding great.”
Once Over earned $13,750 for the win to take his career earnings to $66,993.He’s won four of 15 career starts.
Lila Kessinger’s Seperate Interest earned $5,625 for his second place finish in the Katella. The stallion by Separatist has finished in the top two in seven of 13 career starts. He was second to eventual World Champion One Dashing Eagle in the 2012 Golden State Million Futurity and was fourth to champion Matabari in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Abigail Kawananakoa’s Significant Heart bounced back from an out of the money finish in the Charger Bar Handicap for mares to finish third against the boys in this race. The winner of last year’s PCQHRA Breeders Derby earned $3,125 for running third. Fols Jesse, Vodka With Ice, Sparky E Boy and High School Secrets completed the field.