S-Quarter K LLc’s World Champion Heza Dasha Fire was simply superb in his return to racing, as he blew away a solid field to win the Grade 1, $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap by two lengths on Sunday at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Making his first start after having surgery on both knees following a second place finish in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 14, the gelding by Walk Thru Fire flew out of the gate from post number nine and completely dominated eight rivals to win the 56th running of the Go Man Go. Ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Jose Flores, Heza Dasha Fire covered the 400 yards in :19.364 to give him the sixth fastest time in the history of this race. His winning time was also the fastest at 400 yards this season at Los Alamitos. Bill Hoburg’s BH Lisas Boy ran second, while Celina Molina’s Viento Negro finished third.
Flores was confident about Heza Dasha Fire’s chances in the Go Man Go earlier this week. The trainer loved Heza Dasha Fire’s gate workout back on August 9 when he covered 350 yards in :17.50. He also loved the fact that the champ is maintaining his weight better than ever before.
“It makes things so much easier when a horse keeps his weight,” Flores said. “He looks so good right now. I think it’s the best he’s ever looked. I am so happy with how he’s returned from his surgery. They did such a great job with him.”
“He felt great,” Mendez said. “He had a great start and felt strong. I was very impressed. I think he’s returned better now than when he came back as a 3-year-old after his 2-year-old campaign. He felt fresh. He’s been resting. I’m very happy. It’s exciting when he runs this way. He’s so fast.”
Dr. Wayne McIlwraith performed the surgery on Heza Dasha Fire in late February and from there the horse headed to Dr. Rick and Mindy Overly’s Lazy Creek Ranch in Murrieta, California to recover. He returned to Los Alamitos in June.
“Dr. McIlwraith did the surgery and he is great,” said Kathy Meneely of S-Quarter K LLC. “Jose’s (crew) took special care of him right off the bat. We sent him to the Overly’s and (they) took special care of him there. Everyone treats him like a little prima donna and he takes it like he’s due. It’s a great team of people around him. Dr. Overly does the prep work before his races. It just takes a whole team.”
“You’re always nervous when you have first race after a long layoff,” Don Meneely added. “We really liked the outside post. He’s been training super. He had a great work. He had his mind on running. That was exhilarating to watch him run. He’s unbelievable.
“I was extremely nervous. You look at his record and you think you shouldn’t be, but you start running as a 4 year and every horse in there deserves to be in there. They’re all good horses. You make a false step here and there and don’t do something right and you’ll get beat. Tonight he put it all together again and he looked like the Dash of old. I guess he’s back.”
Heza Dasha Fire earned $47,000 for the win to take his career bankroll to $1,761,487. He also improved his lifetime record to 12 wins in 15 starts. The Go Man Go was also his fifth Grade 1 victory of his career: the Ed Burke Million Futurity and Golden State Million Futurity as a 2-year-old and the Los Alamitos Super Derby and Champion of Champions as a 3-year-old. Heza Dasha Fire also won the Grade 2 Golden State Derby while all five of his starts last year. He was named Quarter Horse racing’s world champion and also the champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding. His win in the Go Man Go will likely earn him a berth in the Champion of Champions. SLM Big Daddy in 1998 is the last horse to successfully defend his title in the Champion of Champions.
“The icing on the cake is that it appears like he’s qualified to the Champion of Champions,” Don Meneely said. “You look at the calendar and there’s not that many qualifying races left. With his surgery and rehab, it prevented him from running in some of those, but tonight he put it all together and made it a special night for us. We have him pointed for the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (October 9). We’ll talk to Jose, but that’s definitely on our schedule at this point in time.”
Ridden by Ramon Sanchez, BH Lisas Boy earned $20,000 for his runner-up effort in the Go Man Go. The winner of the Bank of America California Challenge on August 14, BH Lisas Boy has now earned $156,628 in his career. The gelding by Mighty Invictus has now finished second or better in 14 of 18 career starts. Trained by Juan Aleman, Viento Negro earned $10,000 for his third place finish in this race. Cesar De Alba piloted the First Moonflash gelding. With this third place finish, Viento Negro is now eligible to compete in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials, which serves as the final qualifying race to the Champion of Champions. Forget It, Walk The Catwalk, Fiery Kimbo, Closing Time, Dutcher and Dr Jess completed the field.