Ron Hartley’s Moonist continued his out of this world campaign thanks to a half-length victory over Vessels Maturity winner Far Niente in the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship at 440-yards on Saturday night.
Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer John Cooper, the great Moonist flew to the early lead and quickly had a ¾ length advantage over Seperate Interest and Far Niente. Moonist continued on powerfully from there and while Far Niente made a strong late rush, it was not enough to unseat Moonist from the top perch as Los Alamitos’ top older horse. Moonist covered the quarter mile distance in 21.504 while picking up his 20th career win in 29 starts. Moonist earned $62,500 in the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship to take his career earnings to $706,194.
After winning nine of 10 starts, a record four derbies at Los Alamitos, and two AQHA titles in 2014, Moonist is enjoying another dominant season in 2015. The 4-year-old Separatist gelding has won seven of nine starts this year with five of those victories coming in stakes races.
The victory also gives Moonist his third win in a row against the top older horses at Los Alamitos. He won the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap on July 25, the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap last month, and now the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. Thanks to wins in the Go Man Go and Los Alamitos Invitational, Moonist has to be considered the favorite in the December 12 Champion of Champions as of right now. The Los Alamitos Championship carried an automatic starting berth to the Champion of Champions.
The Los Alamitos Championship was another wonderful display of talent by the Vessels Stallion Farm-bred Moonist, now one of only nine Quarter Horse with at least 11 stakes wins at the historic Orange County track. Of the nine, three of these stakes winning iron horses were trained by John Cooper. The Idaho native saddled Sign Of Lanty to 16 stakes victories, which is the third most ever at Los Alamitos, and also Chingaderos to 11 stakes wins. Charger Bar and Kaweah Bar are the all-time leaders at Los Alamitos with 18 stakes wins each.
Tom Atwood and John Wells’ Far Niente earned $21,250 for running second to Moonist. Trained by Jose Hernandez, the FDD Dynasty gelding was back on the track after being scratched out of the Go Man Go Handicap due to a minor foot ailment. He’ll get another shot at Moonist when the two meet again in the Champion of Champions. Eduardo Nicasio piloted Far Niente.
Steve Burns’ classy veteran Seperate Interest earned $12,500 for running third on Saturday. He’ll look for a chance to qualify to the Champion of Champions in next month’s Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials, a race that he won last year.
Reliance Ranches’All American Gold Cup winner Rock You ran fourth and was followed across the wire by French Fury, Well And Good, Remarkableyesapoweer, Fiery Kimbo, Joe Legacy, and All Out Arrogant.