Eddie Willis, currently the nation’s leading Quarter Horse trainer in money earned with $2,698,654.00, arrived at Los Alamitos Race Course this season with a stable of 26 Quarter Horses.
“It’s the most I’ve ever brought out here,” said Willis, one of the nation’s leading trainers. “The money is outstanding here with races like the Golden State Million Futurity, the Los Alamitos Super Derby, Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and the Champion of Champions. I like to run in the trials to these races and hopefully get a few horses in the final.”
One of the Willis’ hopefuls for the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity is Bill Price’s BP First Class, who made an impressive local debut after outdueling John Deere California Juvenile Challenge finalist First Down Tiny Man to win Saturday’s $30,000 Autumn Handicap at 350 yards. Ridden by Carlos Huerta from post number two, BP First Class covered the distance in :17.749. Sent off at 9-1 odds, BP First Class earned $16,500 for the win to take his career earnings to $30,968.
“(BP First Class) is a really sound horse,” Willis said. “He’s very lightly raced. This is only his fifth start. He’s a First Down Dash gelding and horses by First Down Dash get better with age. This horse ran a nice race tonight and hopefully he keeps getting better. We’ll run in the Two Million trials and this seemed like a nice spot to get him ready for those trials. This ran offered nice money and I think it sets him up nicely for the Two Million trials.”
Bred his owner, BP First Class began his racing career with a victory in the trials to the Remington Park Futurity on April 4. He qualified to the Remington Park Juvenile Stakes, where he had the early lead before fading to sixth in the 330-yard dash. He finished in the top four in his trial efforts to the Rainbow Futurity and All American Futurity before traveling to California.
In addition to leading the nation in money earned, Willis is the third leading trainer in races won. Only Paul Jones and Kenneth Roberts have paid more visit’s to the winner’s circle than Willis. The trainer credits owners like Bill Price for his continued success.
“I’ve know Bill for over 25 years and I’ve trained for him over 15 years,” he said. “I also couldn’t do it without my great help. I’m busy with horses at different tracks and also at the ranch and my grooms here do a great job. I don’t have to worry about it when I’m not here. Scott Guy also helps me a lot out here. I couldn’t do it without my outstanding help.”
Owned by Colten O’Dell, Wendy O’Dell and Pirate Stables, First Down Tiny Man earned $6,750 for finishing second. Eddie Garcia, the all-time leading rider in wins and stakes wins at Los Alamitos, replaced Cruz Mendez aboard First Down Tiny Man. Mendez could not ride after injuring his hand when hitting the ground after the end of the seventh race on Friday night. Mendez had swelling in his right hand and will miss the rest of racing this weekend. He’s scheduled to visit a specialist on Monday.
Michael Zynda’s Foo Who battled gamely throughout on the way to running third. The only filly in the field, the daughter of Foose has hit the board in all three of her career starts. Foo Who earned $3,750. Amber Bock, Looking For Girls, Mr Ko, Bikini Watcher, and Valiant Fire completed the field.