Why run when you can Walk? In the case of the Grade 1, $208,850 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, the impressive Ynot Walk was the fastest way to the finish line, as the California-bred gelding led from start to finish en route to a half length victory over fastest qualifier Apolitical Zoom on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Owned by RTM Stables LLC and George Weldon, Ynot Walk lugged in from post number 10, but he was still too much for his nine rivals to handle in the 400-yard race. Ridden by Guillermo Suarez for trainer Rafael Orozco, the son of Walk Thru Fire covered the distance in :19.870 while picking up his fourth win in 11 starts. Three of Ynot Walk’s four victories have come in stakes races at Los Alamitos. He won the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge and the Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational last year before walking away with the first place share of the purse in the Winter Derby.
“When I saw him in the paddock, I thought he was in for a big race,” said Weldon’s wife, Judy. “He’s getting better and better. He likes 400 yards. He was the littlest guy in the race, but 400 yards does not scare him at all.”
For the Weldon’s, the victory in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby was their biggest at the Orange County oval.
“This is our first Grade 1 race at Los Alamitos, but our homebred Lotta Dynasty won the ($158,800) Mile High Futurity at (Arapahoe Park) last year,” she added.
The Weldons have been involved with Quarter Horses since 1983 when George gave money to his boss at the time to buy him a horse from David Plummer at a horse sale in Apple Valley.
“I was working at an oil company at the time and my boss was involved in horse racing,” said George, a native of Vernal, Utah. “”I couldn’t go to the sale so he ended up telling me that he would buy me something at the sale. He bought me a colt named Kipomatic and I ended up racing him and standing him at stud for a long time. He did well for me. He won some races and also sired some colts that made me some money. Kipomatic lived until he was 28-years-old.”
George Weldon trained horses in the Wyoming racing circuit that included tracks in Evanston, Casper, Gillette, and Rock Springs. He also raced horses in Utah and enjoyed his Quarter Horses in the chariot racing circuit. As Weldon’s oil field construction company grew, he had less time to train his horses.
“The oil company paid more bills than the horses so I had to spend more time with it. I’ve worked for Chevron since 1987 and we had other clients in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. The company finances the horses. My son runs the company more and more now. I’m now at the barn most mornings. I love being at the barn. I also run chariots. I have two teams. I am a driver of one team and my friend, Geno Flannery, who was a jockey and rode a lot of winners for me, is the driver of the other team.”
Weldon is also stands a couple of stallions, including Harems Last Dash, who stands at AVS Equine Hospital in Tallahassee, Florida, and is also part of the FDD Dynasty and Stel Corona syndicates.
“ ‘Scoop’ Vessels made sure I was in the FDD Dynasty syndicate and we jumped at the chance to join,” he said.
“We also bought a half sister to Ynot Walk sired by Favorite Cartel at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale last year,” George Weldon added.
The Weldons raced Ynot Walk in partnership with the Hanson family’s RTM Stables.
“Jim Hanson called me a couple of years ago and asked me if I wanted to partner up. Up to that point my wife was the only partner that I had ever had, but I had known the Hansons for a long time.”
At the 2013 Equine Sale, George and Jim’s son, Ryan Hanson, went together to look at Ynot Walk. They both came away impressed with the Steve Burns-bred product of Walk Thru Fire out of the broodmare Ynot Bar. Sired by Chicks Beduino, Ynot Bar won $136,480 in her career that included finishing second in the Governor’s Cup Futurity and qualifying to the Los Alamitos Million Futurity. Ynot Walk earned $87,717 for winning the Winter Derby to take his career earnings to $129,147.
Denny and Kris Hill’s Apolitical Zoom earned $35,504 for running second. The filly by Apollitical Jess was sixth at the start, but she quickly found her stride and was the only runner within striking distance of Ynot Walk in the final 100 yards of the race. Bret Vickery saddled Apolitical Zoom, who was ridden by Carlos Huerta.
Ed Allred and Steve Burns’ Cartels Big Gun, a full brother to 2013 AQHA champion 2-year-old colt Five Bar Cartel, earned $25,062 for finishing in third place. Carlos Huerta piloted him for trainer Scott Willoughby. The field to the Winter Derby was completed by Old Six Six, Face The Mark, James First Affair, Walk The Catwalk, Chowchilla Dreamin, Wild Sixes Cartel, and SMS Boogie Nanu.