S-Quarter K LLC’s Heza Dasha Fire established himself as the top 2-year-old on the West Coast after a tremendous victory in the $985,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
With Cruz Mendez in the irons, the son of Walk Thru Fire took the lead shortly after the start and dominated from that point forward on the way to posting the third fastest 350-yard time ever in the event’s history. Originally contested at 330 yards, the Ed Burke has been run yearly at 350 yards since 1956. Heza Dasha Fire’s winning time of :17.223 is behind only champion Carters Cartel’s :17.17 in 2007 and champion Foose’s :17.220 in 2008. Heza Dasha Fire came into this race as the fastest qualifier after winning his trial in :17.40.
Trained by Jose Flores, the 2-5 favorite Heza Dasha Fire was a half-length ahead of his rivals shortly after the start and he just got better from that point on. The Washington-bred runner was a full length ahead of 35-1 longshot and eventual runner-up Oneapolliticalflight with 110 yards to go in the race. He was an impressive 1 ¼ lengths ahead of his rival at the finish line. Heza Dasha Fire is now a perfect three for three in his career and all of them have been by daylight margins. Heza Dasha Fire earned $396,900 for the win to take his career earnings to $401,930.
“I am dumbfounded right now,” said Shawn Meneely, who along with his parents Don and Kathy make up S-Quarter K LLC. “All three of his races have been great. “I’m speechless to win this race and be with these kind of horses. It’s a great feeling.”
Shawn, 38, is a financial advisor based in Seattle, Washington. He became involved in the sport shortly after his parents purchased some broodmares.
“We have two mares,” Kathy Meneely explained. “Don and I bought one and a year later we bought a second one and Shawn purchased half of that mare.”
That mare was Dasha Freda, the mother of Heza Dasha Fire.
“The S-Quarter K LLC the partnership that we have with Shawn,” Kathy added.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen this horse run in person,” Shawn continued. “I watched the first two on TV. To watch him run live gave me some big goose bumps. To watch him leave the gate, go so fast, and run the way he did all the way to the finish line was impressive. It was better watching him live.”
Heza Dasha Fire has done everything right. Mendez, who piloted him to victory, added that the victory was as easy as it comes.
“He just leaves out of the races. He breaks great,” he said. “I just had to urge him a little bit and it was just to make sure that he kept his mind on running. He ran a big race.”
Heza Dasha Fire is now eligible to win the $1,000,000 Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza, which would go to him if he can also win the Golden State Million Futurity and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The lure of the $1,000,000 bonus will make schedule planning a lot easier for S-Quarter K LLC and Flores.
“I think we’ll just wait until the Golden State Million Futurity (trials on October 19),” Flores said. “Well get him ready for that race. We’ll see how he pulls up. I’m not thinking All American Futurity, but it’s the owners’ decision. It’s their choice. He’ll stay here for a bit. Maybe we’ll send him to a ranch for about 30 days.”
Don and Kathy Meneely are strongly leaning towards keeping Heza Dash Fire in California.
“Our plan is to run him here,” Don explained. “We like the weather here and we still have a $1,000,000 race in the Golden State Million Futurity and a $2,000,000 race in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. I think it’s for the best interest of the horse to run here. There’s plenty of money to run for in California. We have no plans at this time to (go to) Ruidoso Downs. The All American Futurity is a prestigious race, but our plan is to keep him here. It’s tough out there because it’s two days of trials, plus there’s a climate and altitude change.”
“The stars would need to align,” Kathy added about winning the All American.
“What impresses me is his ability to break from the gate, get quick into stride, and then have the ability to finish strong,” Don said.
The victory also completed a very emotional week for trainer Jose Flores, who a few days ago lost 2013 Kindergarten Futurity winner Glitter In My Face. The filly became ill last Saturday and had to be euthanized. She won four of five career starts. She was owned by Flores’ dad, Antonio.
“My dad was sad, I was sad. Our entire crew was upset. It was tough to lose Glitter In My Face,” the trainer explained. “We needed this boost for the barn. Whenever we win a big race, the entire crew gets happy. We really needed this. Glitter In My Face was a super horse. We miss her a lot.”
A few days after losing Glitter In My Face, Flores was working hard with perfecting Heza Dasha Fire’s good behavior in the gate.
“We schooled him in the gate twice before this race,” he said. “That’s the main thing that we’ve been working him since the Ed Burke trials. He’s always a calm and easy horse, but Cruz noticed that he’s been getting a little more anxious in the gate because he knows that he’s about to race. The more he’s run the more excited he’s become. We worked in the gate with him a lot because of that. The entire crew did a great job.”
Heza Dasha Fire was so impressive in his two previous victories that few horsemen were surprised by the results of the Ed Burke final.
“My horse (Forget It) ran well,” said Jaime Gomez referring to the third place finisher in the Ed Burke. “But Jose’s horse is just too strong.”
Eduardo Nicasio, who piloted fifth place finisher Apollitical Blood, was of the same opinion. .
“My horse did not break,” the talented jockey said. “He was running well at the end, but Jose’s horse is super strong.”
Rancho El Cabresto, who campaigns fifth place finisher Apollitical Blood, also owns runner-up Oneapolliticalflight. Ridden by Raul Valenzuela, the filly by One Famous Eagle earned $160,650. Oneapolliticalflight and Apollitical Blood were both saddled by Juan Aleman.
Dutch Masters III’s Forget It earned $113,400 for running third with Rodrigo Aceves as the pilot. DonaLD and Peggy Boyle’s BF Farm Boss pocked $66,150 for his fourth place finish.
The complete order of finish is as follows: Heza Dasha Fire, Oneapolliticalflight, Forget It, BF Farm Boss, Apollitical Blood, Luv Supreme, Phenomenal Jess, Hot Shot, Wrap You Up, and Down To Boogie.
Jose Flores enjoyed an Ed Burke double on Sunday. The trainer also saddled Howard Nichols’ Vivid to victory in the $25,000 Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile Stakes. Also ridden by Cruz Mendez, the Walk Thru Fire filly was the 11th fastest qualifier to the Ed Burke Million and just missed the 10th spot by 6/1000ths of a second. Vivid won the Ed Burke Juvenile by ¾ lengths. She covered the distance in :17.702 while earning $13,350 for the win. Felix A. Gonzalez’s A Mere Patron.
“She broke really nice and I think she’ll like more distance,” Nichols said. “We’ll give her 30 days off.”