Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot overcame two colic surgeries in 2015 and not only is the son of Walk Thru Fire alive, he’s thriving on the track as proven by his victory in the Grade 1 $152,000 Vessels Maturity on Sunday at Los Alamitos Race Course.
He Looks Hot, the winner of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in 2014, missed his entire sophomore campaign because of the two surgeries. The first surgery occurred in April of 2015 according to trainer Scott Willoughby and the second one followed just four months later. The surgeries were performed at San Luis Rey Equine Hospital near Bonsall, California.
“What he’s been through, two colic surgeries, he’s an amazing horse,” Willoughby said. “We didn’t even know he was going to live. For him to be winning stakes races after all he’s been through, it’s just amazing. Anytime you go into a colic surgery it’s scary. The first one was scary and we never though he would come back and race at this level. Then he went back a second time for colic surgery, there were some adhesions from the first surgery, no fault of anybody, they just happened. The people at San Luis Rey Equine Hospital, Dr. Korin Potenza (DVM) and their crew down there, did a really good job taking care of him and he’s come back great. He’s just getting bigger and stronger every day. He’s training like a monster. He’s just a fantastic horse. He’s got a heart as big as a truck.”
And the talent and class to match. Ridden by Carlos Huerta, He Looks Hot broke sharply from post number one and dueled Jumonville Farms and Brian Ranch’s Dutcher during the first half of the 400-yard race. He Looks Hot drifted out halfway through the race, but Huerta kept him focused and going and the gelding did the rest. He Looks Hot went on to outfinished Dutcher while posting a neck victory – his fourth in 11 career starts and first since winning the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on December 14, 2014 over a field that included reigning World Champion Heza Dasha Fire. He Looks Hot also earned a berth to the $600,000 Champion of Champions to be held on December 10 with his win in the Vessels Maturity. He now joins Remington Park Championship winner Zoomin Effortlessly in the Champion of Champions field.
“To be in the Champion of Champions is always a dream,” Willoughby said. “I think we’ll have a big shot in that race.”
He Looks Hot covered the distance in :19.724 while earning $63,840 for his Vessels win. The total raises his career earnings to $962,985 and gives him a chance to go over the $1 million mark. That would make him the first Allred-owned or bred runner to earn a million dollars, a figure that he probably would already reached had it not been for his battles with colic.
“When he won the Two Million we were extremely excited to come back with him as a 3-year-old,” Willoughby added. “We didn’t get the opportunity. Now as a 4-year-old to come back and win his first big race (of the year) and be in the Champion of Champions in his third start, we’re thrilled. He needed his first two starts (runner-up efforts in both the Lakewood Handicap and Vessels trial) just to get ready for this one.
“The plan now is to go to California-bred Champions Night and the Spencer Childers Championship Handicap (on July 30) and then the Go Man Go (September 4), the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (October 9), and the Champion of Champions (December 10). It works out just perfect for this horse. I can breeze him in between and he should be fine.”
Trained by Juan Aleman and ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, Dutcher earned $25,840 for his runner-up effort. The son of Apollitical Jess ran second in the Texas Classic Derby last year. Hector Villalobos’ Forget It, a three-time derby winner in 2015, earned $18,240 for running third. He Is The Risingstar, Dr Jess, Vivid, Fiery Kimbo, Walk The Catwalk, and Energy Cartel completed the field.
One huge name missing from the Vessels Maturity was, of course, Moonist, who lost his own fight with colic on Tuesday, June 21. The multiple AQHA champion and 12-time stakes winner won his Vessels trial, posted the fastest qualifying time, and would have been the betting favorite in the final.
“I would have loved to hook Moonist back,” Willoughby said. “I hate that he’s not here. It’s horrible that we lost him for the business and for the people. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t come through his colic surgery. It’s such a tough deal.”