Ron and Jeryl Hartley’s Moonist was named Horse of the Year in California during the the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Awards Banquet held in the Finish Line Room at Los Alamitos on Thursday night.
Moonist was also named the champion 3-year-old gelding and his entire racing team was also recognized during the ceremony. Hartley was honored with the owner special achievement award, while trainer John Cooper was recognized with the trainer special achievement award. Jockey Cesar De Alba, who finished the year as the meet’s second leading jockey while piloting the likes of Moonist, was recognized as jockey special achievement honor, and Moonist’s breeder, Vessels Stallion Farm, was honored with the breeder special achievement award.
Time after time, Moonist rose brightly at Los Alamitos. The son of Separatist won nine of 10 starts last year while also becoming the first Quarter Horse to win four derbies at Los Alamitos in a single year. Moonist won the Golden State Derby (G1), El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3), PCQHRA Breeders Derby and Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3). His only loss from his 10 starts was a fourth-place finish in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1).
During the banquet, Moonist was compared to his sire, Separatist, which Cooper also trained.
“Separatist had more speed away from the gate and made no mistakes,” Cooper said. “Moonist would make some mistakes earlier in his career and then he improved. I thought that Separatist was the best. He won three derbies, but then Moonist came along and beat his dad’s record. Moonist is the type of horse that keeps old men like me here.”
De Alba agreed that Moonist is a horse to enjoy.
“He’s the kind of horse that keeps us young guys coming back for more,” De Alba added. “Hard work and riding Moonist helped me with my confidence.”
“I have to thank Mr. Cooper and Cesar for what they’ve done for this horse,” Hartley said. “It’s been great.”
“Vessels Stallion Farm is still around and breeding some good horses like Moonist,” said farm manager, Kevin Dickson.
Ed Allred was presented with the Frank Vessels Sr. Memorial Award by Vessels Sr.’s great grandson, Kash Vessels. The award is presented in appreciation of an outstanding contribution to the sport of Quarter Horse racing. Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos Race Course, had previously received the Vessels Sr. Award in 1988 and 1995 and 2006 along with Frank “Scoop” Vessels.
“Dr. Allred has a passion for Quarter Horse racing and he’s the reason why we are still enjoying Quarter Horse racing at Los Alamitos,” Kash Vessels said.
“I’m deeply grateful,” Allred said. “Los Alamitos would have never been here without the Vessels Family. It’s been a tough year. But we’re on the right track and I’m happy about that. The Thoroughbred meets were held and the track was unbelievable. The race track was a triumph. California Chrome, what a good thing that was for Los Alamitos and Art Sherman was a great ambassador for Los Alamitos everywhere he went.”
Allred was also recognized as champion owner and breeder.
S-Quarter K LLC’s Heza Dasha Fire was named champion 2-year-old gelding after winning the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) and Golden State Million Futurity (G1), and finishing fourth in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1). He finished the year with six wins from seven starts and earnings of $962,956.
“Our plans for him are the Los Alamitos Super Derby and Champion of Champions,” trainer Jose Flores said. “These are our goals.”
“We x-rayed him and he is clean,” Don Meneely added. “He is eating grass right now and resting. We might keep him here at Los Alamitos all year.”
Don and Peggy Boyle’s BF Farm Boss, the winner of the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, was named the champion 2-year-old colt, while Jose Arturo Flores’ Old Girl, winner of the Kindergarten Futurity, was named champion 2-year-old filly. Allred’s Quirky was named the champion 3-year-old filly. Trainer James Glenn Jr. noted that the filly is headed to the breeding shed, but will return to compete on California Breeders Champions Night in July before being pointed to the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap.
Lila Kessinger’s Seperate Interest was named the top aged stallion, while Allred’s Once Over and Abigail Kawananakoa’s Significant Heart was named top aged gelding and mare, respectively.
“We gave consideration to selling (Seperate Interest) at the Heritage Place Sale, but Lila is a trooper. She doesn’t miss many of his races,” trainer Mike Casselman said. “We enjoy having this horse.”
“Once Over ran great last year and everything that his dam, Look Her Over, throws has been a runner,” trainer Scott Willoughby said. “We’ve loved this horse from the first day.”
“(Significant Heart) can rocket out of the gate and she has a lot of guts,” trainer Paul Jones said.
Trainer Paul Jones was recognized as California’s Trainer of the Year for the 16th time. He is two more wins away from equaling Blane Schvaneveldt’s record of 18 wins.
“I dedicate this award to my assistant trainer Roque Gonzalez. No one works harder or is more dedicated than Roque,” Jones said.
Cruz Mendez was recognized as California’s Jockey of the Year for the third straight year.
“I’d like to thank all of the owners, trainers and my agent, Frank Quezada,” Mendez said.
Hartley’s Forgotten Dynasty was the Iron Horse Award winner, while Allred’s Sweet TR was the Most Improved Horse. Reed Pierson’s Wild West Futurity winner Cartels Fire was named the Intermoutain Horse of the Year. Allred’s Look Her Over was the James V.A. Carter Award winner for Broodmare of the Year, while Walk Thru Fire was the Three Bars Award winner as Stallion of the Year for the fourth time. He is owned by a syndicate and stands at Burns Ranch.
Ed Burgart received the Sam Thompson Memorial Award presented to an individual that displays leadership within the Los Alamitos racing community.
TVG received the PCQHRA Special Recognition Award.
Northern California Owner of the Year went to Edward Ozuna, while Adolfo Ortiz was recognized as Northern California Trainer of the Year. Jesus Arriaga received the hardware as Northern California Jockey of the Year. PCQHRA also recognized the leading Thoroughbred horsemen during the nighttime meet in owner Jon Lane Henderson, trainer Charles Treece, and jockey Ramon Guce. Justin Clark and Tom Bazley received Thoroughbred trainer special recognition awards. Cal-Bred divisional awards based on money earned went to Heza Dasha Fire, Old Girl, Here O Beduino, Moonist, Quirky, Once Over, and Check N Fetch. Heza Dasha Fire was the Cal-bred Horse of the Year based on the most money earned in 2014.