Francisco Vega’s Bac In Front kept her winning streak going after outlasting Ed Allred’s Take A Look by a head in the Grade 3, $205,200 La Primera Del Ano Derby for fillies on Friday at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Carlos Huerta for trainer Jaime Gomez, Bac In Front won her fourth race in a row, but winning was not easy on this night. The Foose filly came into the La Primera final after posting the fastest qualifying when winning her trial by 1 ¼ lengths. Prior to the trials, Bac In Front won an allowance race also by 1 ¼ lengths. This time around, the Steve Burns-bred filly was fifth at the start, while trailing early leader Take A Look by about a length. Racing from post number four, Bac In Front began to find her best stride at the half way point of the 400-yard race and eventually gained a slight advantage over Take A Look. The two fillies battled it out for the final 100 yards, but in the end it was Bac In Front who came out on top in the La Primera.
“You can win by a mile or win by a nose and either way is okay,” said trainer Jaime Gomez, who was enjoying his first ever victory in the La Primera final. “I’ve won the El Primero Del Ano twice before and it’s nice to get my first win in this race.”
While Gomez is no stranger to stakes victories at Los Alamitos – he’s won more than 60 stakes in his career at the Orange County oval, owner Francisco Vega was enjoying his first stakes win ever at Los Alamitos. Vega, whose family operates a successful produce business in Chicago, was enjoying Bac In Front in person for the first time.
“I had only seen her in photos and on TV,” said Vega, who purchased Bac In Front privately from Dutch Masters III earlier this year. “My dad loves racing and has been a part of it for about 15-20 years, but this is the biggest race we’ve ever won. Our home track is Indiana Downs and we’ve also raced in Hialeah Park, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park. This is our first time racing in California and it’s been great here.”
The Vega family entered the vegetable business as growers in Mexico in the 1950s. They opened their produce business in Chicago’s old South Water Street Market in the 1970s.
“We get strawberries from California, near Santa Maria,” Vega said. “The rest comes from Mexico.”
The owner added that the family keeps a broodmare band in Chicago.
“We have some good mares and five yearlings that we’re excited about for next year,” he said. “I would say that our interest in the sport is a lot stronger now than it was even a year ago. We’ll probably buy one or two yearlings this year.”
And they also have Bac In Front, of course, a filly figures to be a major player in the derby division this year.
“She’s in the Governor’s Cup Derby, Golden State Derby, PCQHRA Breeders Derby and Southern California Derby,” Gomez added. “This was a hard fought race. Carlos Huerta did a great job. He remained patient and never lost his cool. He rode a very nice race.”
“She had to fight for the win,” Huerta added. “She didn’t break as sharply as she’s done before. She was very relaxed in the gate and when it opened (Take A Look) just flew out of there. I was urging her with my right hand, but when I switched the stick to my left hand that’s when she took off. She had a nice rhythm going, but I needed more from her at that point. She really responded when I went to my left. I tapped her two or three times and she did the rest.”
A perfect four for four this year, Bac In Front earned $86,184 in the La Primera to take her lifetime earnings to $108,673. She’s won five of nine career starts and has never been worse than third in nine career starts.
“I like her because she finishes strongly each time,” Gomez said. “She knows how to close.”
Ridden by Eulices Gomez for trainer James Glenn Jr, Take A Look earned $34,884 for running second. The Allred-bred filly by Separatist is a half sister to 2014 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity winner He Looks Hot. Take A Look won the California Breeders Freshman Stakes for Fillies last year. A winner in four of her nine outings, Take A Look has also hit the board in every one of her career starts. Her lifetime earnings now stand at $64,335.
Nancy Scane’s Skinny Jeans earned $24,624 for running a game third for trainer Patricia Visscher and jockey Oscar Peinado. Bred by Fred Scane, the Foose filly was sixth at the start before rallying to finish third. Third in the Garden Grove Handicap last year, Skinny Jeans improved her career earnings to $41,464.
Abigail Kawananakoa’s A Goddess Thru Fire was fourth and was followed by Valiant Energy, Delightful Molly, Lavish Ivory, Ajs Annas Secret, Foo Who, and Run By You.