Owned by Paul Jones and Thompson Racing, Inc, Senor Gianni ran second to We Like Corona, but the effort was good enough to earn him the fourth fastest time of :19.918. Like Ima Fearless Hero, the gelding by Good Reason SA was making his first start since the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity final on October 3. Senor Gianni finished out of the money in that final due to a very troubled trip, but prior to that race he had won three consecutive starts.
“He’s been a completely different horse since he was gelded a couple of months ago,” said co-owner Terry Thompson. “He lost his path in the Breeders Futurity and he cause his own trouble in that race. We have no excuses for that race. I was looking forward to tonight because he came into this race after a nice, sweet drill on November 7. I’ve become good friends with Howard Nichols and we drew the same trial against We Like Corona. It was cool to watch our two horses duel during that race and it’s great that we both qualified.”
Senor Gianni’s qualifying effort is another good moment for Jones and Thompson in the 2-year-old division at Los Alamitos. The two horsemen are part owners of the stallion Favorite Cartel, currently the nation’s third leading freshman stallion in money earned with around $1 million.
“It’s been a great year and it’s been fun to follow all of the Favorite Cartel babies out there,” Thompson said.
Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess (above) finished with the fifth fastest qualifying time of :19.942 after winning the eighth trial by an impressive :19.942. Cody Jensen rode the filly by Apollitical Jess for trainer Lin Melton.
“She’s so big that in the spring we backed off of her and just took our time,” Melton said. “We started her in July and pointed to the Golden State Million trials. She ran a nice second, but did not qualify. We always thought she was fast and she’s gotten better and better. She’s a strong filly and it all came together tonight.”
Aforementioned trainers like Gomez (Corona Cartel in 1996), Flores (Matabari in 2012), and Jones (A Regal Choice in 2003 and Good Reason SA in 2009) have won the Two Million in the past. Melton finished second with the talented Meteoric to First Place Queen in 2002, and he’s also qualified with Royal Miracle Dip (2002) and Double Out (2008).
“After we ran Double Out in the Two Million trials we went to Rodney’s Bar (across from the winner’s circle at Los Alamitos) and we stayed there until the trials were over and Double Out had qualified. I’m superstitious so we did the same thing after Time For Jess ran. We just stayed there at Rodney’s Bar.”
Denny Boer and Spackman Racing campaigned Double Out, which would go on to finish a solid fifth to Tres Passes in that year’s Los Alamitos Two Million final. Spackman Racing will have another runner in the ‘Deuce’ thanks to Time For Jess’ big effort.
“We’ve been with Lin since 1973, more than 40 years,” said K.C. Spackman. “This feels great right now.”
Rancho El Alacran’s Mi Viejo has come on strong during the second half of the year. The Mexican-bred colt by Mr Jess Perry won his trial to the Golden State Million and ran fifth in the final. He looked sharp on Sunday evening, as he posted a solid ¾ length win in the sixth fastest time of :19.948 under jockey Joe Badilla for trainer Adriana Aceves. His win came in the 10th trial.
“It’s a big relief to see him post that good an effort in one of the last trials,” Aceves said. “When it happens that late in the night you feel like you’re so close to the final and that you have a good chance to move on. He’s been getting better and better. The big difference is the distance. His mother (Lady of Lake) is a Thoroughbred so the longer the distance the better it is for him.”
Rodrigo Aceves, Adriana’s husband, piloted Mi Viejo in the Golden State Million final, but the veteran jockey had shoulder surgery earlier this week, which forced him to miss Sunday’s trials.
“It’s too bad that Rodrigo could not ride, but we’re happy to have Joe Badilla. With Rodrigo the pain was too much and he needed to have the shoulder surgery. He’s feeling a lot better now.”
Walk Thru Crystal and Docs Best Card are the only two juveniles to qualify to all three of the million dollar races contested this year at Los Alamitos. The winner of the Ed Burke Million and the fourth place finisher in the Golden State Million, EG High Desert Farm’s Walk Thru Crystal was sharp in winning the third trial. Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Yanet Rodriguez, the filly by Walk Thru Fire was picking up her sixth win in eight starts this season. She won her trial by one length and in a time of :19.949.
“She’s such a quiet, smart, and nice filly,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t have to worry about her wasting energy or acting silly. She’s all business. That’s what I love about her.”
McKinnerney’s Jess A Pollitician beat Walk Thru Crystal when the two qualified to the Golden State Million. However, Jess A Pollitician had to miss the race due to going on the vet’s list for 14 days after bleeding in the trials.
“I’m so glad for Janet that he made it,” Flores said of the Apollitical Jess gelding. “It was tough to see him miss the Golden State, but it’s great for him and the owner that he’ll be a part of the Two Million.”
The final two spots went to the 1-2 finishers of trial number nine, Sale Topper and Dynasty Energy. Owned by Ed Allred, Sale Topper edged Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Dynasty Energy by a nose to win the trial in a time of :20.031.
“(Sale Topper) had a great start,” said trainer Scott Willoughby, who won the Two Million last year with He Looks Hot. “He made a funny move in the second half of the race, but he recovered, kept going and was able to catch Dynasty Energy. I thought he was going to win easy after the way he started this race, but (Dynasty Energy) got ahead of him when he made that mistake. (Jockey) Carlos Huerta did a great job to get him back on the lead.”
Bred by Allred, Sale Topper was picking up his third win in seven career starts.
Trained by Chris O’Dell and ridden by Tony Guymon, Dynasty Energy covered the distance in a time of :20.036. The FDD Dynasty gelding won the California Breeders Freshman Stakes earlier this year.
The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Docs Best Card (:19.848), Ima Fearless Hero (:19.855), We Like Corona (:19.890), Senor Gianni (:19.918), Time For Jess (:19.942), Mi Viejo (:19.948), Walk Thru Crystal (:19.949), Jess A Pollitician (:20.025), Sale Topper (:20.031), and Dynasty Energy (:20.036).
NOTES: Owners Howard Nichols, Janet McKinnerney, and Ed Allred have previous wins in the Los Alamitos Two Million. Nichols was part owner of 2011 winner I Like The Odds, while McKinnerney campaigned the aforementioned Tres Passes. Allred has won the Two Million twice. He won the 1998 running with Kingman Kid and the 2014 renewal with He Looks Hot….Jockey Carlos Huerta piloted He Looks Hot to victory in the Two Million last year…Joe Badilla won the inaugural running of this event, then known as the Los Alamitos Million Futurity, aboard Abigail Kawananakoa’s Evening Snow in 1995. Badilla also won it with Allred’s Kingman Kid, which was trained by Kelly Lewis… Donna McArthur is the only other female trainer to have won the Two Million and now Adriana Aceves looks to become the third with Mi Viejo... Leading Quarter Horse jockey Cruz Mendez qualified all three of Flores’ horses, including second fastest qualifier Ima Fearless Hero. Mendez will have a big decision to make, as to which horse he’ll ride in the final. He won this race with Matabari in 2012…Corona Cartel (Docs Best Card and We like Corona), Walk Thru Fire (Walk Thru Crytal and Sale Topper), and Apollitical Jess (Time For Jess and Jess A Pollitician) are the sires of two qualifiers each. The other stallions to be represented in the Two Million are Valiant Hero (Ima Fearless Hero), Good Reason SA (Senor Gianni), Mr Jess Perry (Mi Viejo), and FDD Dynasty (Dynasty Energy)…Mi Viejo is Spanish for My Old Man…Senor Gianni is named in memory of the great Brazilian breeder and owner Gianni Franco Samaja, who won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and Champion of Champions with the stallion Good Reason SA.