The running of the $48,600 John Deere California Juvenile Challenge promised to be a highly competitive affair, especially after the scratch of fastest qualifier and morning line favorite Daddys Dollars following a foot injury suffered earlier this week. The John Deere California lived up to that billing and more, as the photo finish could not separate Thrice Wise and Luv On The Run at the wire resulting in a dead-heat in the 350-yard race on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Owned by Parsons Ranch, Thrice Wise was on the lead most of the race, but Jesus Nava’s Luv On The Run made his usual late run and even things out with the filly at the wire. The two finished a neck ahead of third place finisher Much Better Reason while the third place finisher was a half-length ahead of the tightly bunched trio of Swiper B Sonic, Mi Viejo, and Foust. Thrice Wise and Luv On The Run covered the 350 yards in :17.808.
Saddled by Sergio Fiscal and ridden by Jose Nicasio, Luv On The Run was third start in less than one month. The Favorite Cartel colt was third in the California Breeders Freshman Stakes on July 25 and a John Deere California trial winner two weeks later on August 8. Two weeks after the trials, Luv On The Run was once again showing his mettle, this time in the richest race so far in his career.
“This horse has the heart of a lion,” Fiscal said. “It’s hard for a 2-year-old to bounce back so quickly, but he’s done it. Three races and all three have been good races all in less than a month. I have no words to express just how impressed I am with this horse. I’m very proud of him.”
The last horse listed in the 2014 Los Alamitos Equine Sale catalog, Luv On The Run was purchased by Nava for $11,000.
“He was the last horse that was being sold and we got him,” Nava said. “We got lucky with this horse. He’s been really good, especially this past month. We had a lot of family and friends that came out to watch him run and the horse did a good job. We’ll give him some time off to rest before the Golden State Million Futurity trials and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials.”
For Nicasio, who is the younger brother of three-time Champion of Champions winning jockey Eduardo Nicasio, the John Deere California was his first career stakes victory. The up-and-coming young pilot has won eight Quarter Horse races this season with a win ratio of 20%.
Trained by Chris O’Dell and ridden by Tony Guyman, the Tres Seis filly Thrice Wise has finished second or better in all four of his career starts now. The filly came into this race after running second to Luv On The Run in the John Deere Juvenile trials and prior to that she broke her maiden in a 300-yard dash on June 19.
“She’s a little nervous filly, but she’s pretty talented,” O’Dell said. “She just finished in a dead-heat with a really nice horse. We were on the lead and I thought we had won it. She always tries hard. She’s a bundle of nervous, but she runs hard every time.”
Luv On The Run and Thrice Wise each earned $16,038 for the win. For the Mr. and Mrs. Judd Morse-trained Luv On The Run, he’s now made $31,683 in his six-race career. Meanwhile, Thrice Wise has made $22,053. The two winners also earned berths to the John Deere Juvenile Challenge to be held on November 7 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.
Tom Bradbury, Vaughn Cook, and Vince Genco’s Much Better Reason earned $4,860 for running third. Swiper B Sonic, Mi Viejo, Foust, Phoebesdynasty, El Compa JV, and Tellem Im Sweet completed the field.