Fourteen-time AQHA champion trainer Paul Jones will have a pair of aces in the running of the $111,000 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes after Dunright Corona (left) and Flay won their respective trials, while also tying for the fastest qualifying time of the night on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Owned by Tom Bradbury and Lila Kessinger, Dunright Corona won the third of five trials impressively while covering the 350 yards in a time of :17.463. Two trials later, Jones and Thompson Racing Inc’s Flay pulled away in the second half of his trial to also cover the distance in :17.463. Led by Dunright Corona and Flay, the horses with the 10 fastest times will return here for the Maiden Stakes final on Sunday, February 21. There will be no live racing at Los Alamitos on February 5-7.
Ridden by Oscar Peinado, who is currently the leading Quarter Horse jockey at Los Alamitos with 11 victories, Dunright Corona posted a ¾ length win over fourth fastest qualifier Girls On Fire. The gelding by Corona Cartel is out of Fancys First Affair, the winner of her first four career starts and the $218,000 La Primera Del Ano Derby in 2007. Dunright Corona was breaking his maiden in his sixth career start. He had previously finished second in a pair of maiden race and also ran fifth to Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Time For Jess in the trials to that Grade 1 race.
“He had a very impressive 350-yard work (:18 flat at 350 yards on January 16),” said Jones of the fastest of 10 works that morning. “He really worked strong that day. Coming off a couple of close seconds in some nice races and coming out of that work he really did (well), I was really pleased with the way he ran tonight. This is always a tough race. It’s never easy. There are a lot of really nice horses that get injured or stopped early in the year and get laid up. Then they come back late in the year and they’re still maidens, but it’s always a tough race with some quality horses in it. It’s really a nice race because it gives the horses that got injured and didn’t get a chance to break their maiden early on or run in the Los Alamitos Two Million or Golden State Million or all those big races, it gives them another place to run for some money. It’s a good option for horses that didn’t get to do much early on in their career.”
Flay came into the Maiden trials with only two previous starts under his belt. He was a convincing maiden winner in his career debut on December 4, but then settled for second place when facing the razor sharp My Favorite Check in an allowance race on New Year’s Day. With Peinado in the saddle, Flay recovered quickly from a tad slow start and then put away his competition with ease on the way to a 1 ¼ length victory. Named after the celebrity chef, Flay is the son of Favorite Cartel and out of Summertime Quickie, which is also the mother of millionaire champion Foose.
“Marin, Paul’s wife, named him after Bobby Flay,” said Terry Thompson. “He’s a good looking colt. Paul really took his time with him. We set him up for this race. His last start he kind of hit the side of the gate against My Favorite Check. He still finished pretty well. He’s the real deal. He’s a half-brother to Foose. His sire is Favorite Cartel, who I think is the hottest sire right now. We are completely thrilled with what Favorite Cartel is doing right now.”
Bobby Flay is a horse lover and the recipient of the 2013 Earle I. Mack Thoroughbred Champion Award, annually given to an individual for outstanding efforts and influence on Thoroughbred racehorse welfare, safety, and retirement. Flay has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Thoroughbred retirement, primarily through the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The most closely contested trial of the night featured EG High Desert Farms’ Pedro Czech and Ron Hartley’s My Favorite Check, which came with a perfect record after two starts. With Jesus Rios Ayala aboard for trainer Yanet Rodriguez, Pedro Czech outlasted My Favorite Check by a half-length to record his second win in seven starts. The gelding by One Sweet Jess covered the distance in the third fastest time of :17.555.
“It feels good,” Rodriguez said. “Thanks to (Enrique) Gonzalez (of EG High Desert), he’s given us the material and we’re taking advantage of it.”
The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Dunright Corona (:17.463), Flay (:17.463), Pedro Czech (:17.555), Girls On Fire (:17.588), My Favorite Check (:17.604), Hot Looker (:17.608), Carters Way To Fly (:17.633), Jess Shining (:17.660), Royal Rousing (:17.664), and My Capullo (:17.678). Horses are eligible to compete in the Maiden Stakes if they are maiden as of December 1, 2015.