Ron Hartley’s Moonist returned to the winner’s circle after posting the most decisive victory on California Breeders Champions Night in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap. The 2014 champion 3-year-old gelding crossed the wire 2 ½ ahead of Vessels Maturity runner-up Well And Good to post his 18th career win in 27 starts and his 14th win from his last 17 outings. A four-time derby winner last year, Moonist is now a three-time stakes winner this season following the Spencer Childers. He is now one victory away from 10-career stakes wins at Los Alamitos. Only 12 horses have reached double digits in stakes win in the 64-year history of the track founded the Vessels family.
“He’s the time of horse that keeps a horseman going,” Hartley said.
“This horse has added five years to Ron’s life,” said Cooper jokingly.
“Cooper is right,” said Hartley with a smile. “Moonist is a once in a lifetime type of a horse. Without a doubt, he’s just something very special. He always has his focus on running. He’s very calm and he knows his business. I look back at my time in racing and he’s one of the highlights. I’ve had a long history in racing from the time Ed Burke hired me to work here at the track and I stayed here until the 1980s. I moved over by Romoland and I remember spending so many great morning having breakfast with Blane Schvaneveldt and his stallion manager Dale Badon, two great, great men. Now it’s this horse Moonist. The dream is to get in the Champion of Champions with him. We’ve come up short when we’ve tried to get him in the race, but he’s the horse that just keeps you going. It’s a dream to make the Champion of Champions and we’ll try again to get him that race, probably the Robert L. Boniface (Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on October 17) will be next.”
Cooper has trained at Los Alamitos for five decades and Moonist ranks at the top of his list.
“Not many horses like him,” he said. “Not many individuals like him. I thought his third place finish in the Vessels may have taken a lot out of him because he had to fight back to finish third, but look at the way he won tonight. You don’t see many like him I can tell you that.”
Bred by Vessels Stallion Farm, the Separatist gelding earned $53,500 for the win to take his career earnings to $592,194. As usual, Cesar De Alba was aboard the bay gelding from post number one.
“He was back to himself tonight,” De Alba said. “He broke like he usually does and ran his race. He ran like a Cadillac. He false broke in his last one (Vessels Maturity). That was a big deal.”
Ed Allred’s Well And Good earned $18,500 for his second place finish. The Separatist gelding came into this race after holding off Moonist’s rally when running second to Far Niente in the Vessels Maturity. The winner of the Scott Lewis Handicap earlier this year, Well And Good has finished in the money in 14 of 19 career starts. Randall Dees’ All Out Arrogant finished third and was followed by Look Of A Dasher, 2013 world champion Last To Fire, and Trust Me.