There’ll be no Monday Blues for Russell and Lisa Stooks’ Lucky Seven Ranch after their precocious homebred gelding Lotta Blues Man gave the couple a lot of joy on Sunday night thanks to his victory in the Grade 1, $1,016,250 Golden State Million Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Trained by Mike Casselman, the Favorite Cartel gelding led from start to finish on the way to posting a half-length victory over the late flying A1A Racing LLC’s Tarzanito in the 400-yard race. Expertly ridden by Cody Jensen, who was aboard the winner despite suffering from a very painful shoulder, Lotta Blues Man broke sharply from post number four and never looked back. He was able to maintain a half-length advantage over his closest rivals during the entire race. For Jensen, winning was easy. The shoulder pain was not.
“My shoulder is hurting right now,” Jensen said after the race. “The only time it doesn’t hurt is from the gate to wire. That’s what matters.”
Even track announcer Ed Burgart acknowledge Jensen’s toughness at the end of his race call of the Golden State Million.
“Cody Jensen with a broken collarbone and all takes the Golden State Million," Burgart said.
“He’s just phenomenal,” Casselman said of Jensen. “It’s almost scary how tough a guy he is. He’s gung-ho and he wants to be the guy on the horse and he still does a tremendous job when he is on a horse. He has good sense and so much experience and it really pays off for us. We’re really glad he helped us out.”
Lotta Blues Man covered the distance in :19.653 while improving his record to four wins in five career starts. He earned $412,545 in the Golden State Million to take his career earnings to $549,199. His only loss came when he ran third to Chazaq in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity in late June.
The win was also the second Grade 1 victory for the Stooks in five weeks following their outstanding 4-year-old mare Sass Me Blue’s effort in the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on September 25. The victory earned her a berth to the $600,000 Champion of Champions on December 10, while this win makes Lotta Blues Man one of the big names to watch in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on November 20.
“We’ve tried to keep (Lotta Blues Man) fresh,” Casselman said. “He hasn’t had a lot of outs and that’s Russell’s plan when he brings us these horses. He doesn’t want to use them up early. He wants to be patient and takes his time. We took the horse to the ranch and gave him some time off. We aqua-treaded him and then brought him back. We gated him just one time so this is really only the third time he’s been away from the gate since he’s been back in training. That’s worked out pretty good for this gelding.”
Casselman won the Golden State Million Futurity last year with another Favorite Cartel juvenile, the Burns Ranch-owned Little Talks. He also trains Sass Me Blue for Lucky Seven Ranch, so the final two months of the year should be exciting for the connections of Sass Me Blue and Lotta Blues Man.
For Lucky Seven Ranch, the 2016 The Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials figure to bring back memories of 2006. That was the year that their superstar runner Blues Girl Too won the inaugural running of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The following year she would win the Champion of Champions in a then track record time at 440 yards while becoming only the second Quarter Horse and first female in history to go over the $2 million mark in career earnings.
“She’s still gorgeous,”Stooks said of Blues Girl Too. “She’s living in our ranch in Arizona. We brought her home. The (Golden State Million) is one that Blues Girl Too didn’t win. She got beat by a few inches by (champion) Jess You And I. Lotta Blues Man got it though. He ran a nice race tonight. We knew he had it in him. He’s really, really fast at the end of it. He’s just a little slow getting away from the gate. We told Cody, ‘You get him warmed up and out of the gate and he’s going to win.’ He said ‘I know it.’ And he did.”
Out of Lotta Love For Robyn, Lotta Blues Man is a half-brother of Tres Friends, the winner of both the $1,152,000 Texas Classic Futurity and $1 million Rainbow Futurity last year. This makes Lotta Love For Robyn one of the few broodmares in Quarter Horse racing history to have a pair of winners of million dollar races.
“We bought the embryo from that mare,” Stooks said. “She was at Burns Ranch and we bought an embryo. We decided to breed it to Favorite Cartel. That’s how we got Lotta Blues Man. He turned out kind of small at first so we were really concerned, but then he started to bulk up when we started breaking him. He’s turned out to be quite a gelding. We had other babies that looked just as great and we thought would be the best of the bunch, but it’s turned out to be Lotta Blues Man. They all look great, but the difference is what’s in the mind and what’s in their heart. We hope he pulls up good and we’ll be back in three weeks for the trials to the Two Million.”
For the brilliant stallion Favorite Cartel, everything that he’s had in this race has been golden. He’s had back-to-back winners in this futurity and he is also the sire of this year’s second place finisher, Tarzanito. Ridden by Eddie Garcia for trainer Francisco Vallejo, Tarzanito drifted out early on before flying late in the race to finish second. The Patricia Visscher-bred runner earned $166,983 for the win.
“He was standing nicely, but then the horses around him got a little bit excited and started making noise,” Garcia said. “He acted up a little bit when that happened. That kind of thing happens to young horses. He still ran a great race. He’ll be back in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million.”
After running second in the Ed Burke Million, Fawna Knight’s Worth Doing finished a solid third in the Golden State for trainer Mark Skeen and jockey Tony Guymon. The son of Walk Thru Fire earned $117,870. Fastest qualifier Cartel Sixes, owned by P & J Racing and trained by Jaime Gomez, finished fourth. He earned $68,757. Renewed, Thats Imperial, AJS Anna Smoke and King Candy completed the field. Seared was scratched after spiking a high temperature earlier in the week. Six Zeroes was also scratched.
The $30,000 Golden State Juvenile Invitational went to Cesar Nunez’s Walk Thru Fire gelding Attack The Wind by neck over Reliance Ranches LLC’s Im Tellin Ya. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez, Attack The Wind covered the distance in :20.024. This was only his second win in seven starts. He earned $16,500 for the victorious effort. EG High Desert Farms’ La Dulce Vita ran third.