Celina Molina’s Viento Negro dominated the running of the Grade 3, $30,000 First Down Dash Handicap, as he defeated a field that included multiple Grade 1 winner Far Niente and Restricted Grade 1 winner Flay in the 400-yard race on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Viento Negro picked up his first victory the year thanks to a tremendous 1 ¼ length victory at 5-1 odds. Ridden by Cruz Mendez for Juan Aleman, Viento Negro led shortly after the start and never looked back. This was his first visit to the charmed circle since taking a trial to the Heritage Place Derby in May 2015. Viento Negro covered the distance in :19.810 while adding $16,500 to his bank account. Sired by First Moonflash, the the Arizona-bred 4-year-old gelding improved his record to six wins from 17 career starts while taking his lifetime earnings to $121,851.
Viento Negro has enjoyed a solid autumn here with a third place finish to World Champion Heza Dasha Fire in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap and a fourth to Champion of Champions winner Zoomin For Spuds in the Z. Wayne Griffin Trials.
“Viento Negro is very special to me and my family,” Molina said. “He’s definitely one of many blessings I’m thankful for. We’ve been through a lot with him. His life at the beginning had many complications. I almost lost him a few times. He had surgery when he was not even 24 hours old. He had a meconium impaction (a respiratory dysfunction). In other occasions, Javier, our ranch hand and friend would spend entire nights with him in order to keep him alive. Viento Negro is very valiant and has a huge heart. He’s a fighter, just like me.”
Molina added that her father also feels a strong connection with the horse.
“He would spend most days talking to him in the barns. That’s why he asked me if he could name him. I’ve been approached many times by different people that want to buy him, but I can’t let him go. He’s been good to me. He’s very noble, kind hearted and reminds me so much of his grandfather, Corona Cartel. I don’t get tired of saying it, God is good.”
Tom Atwood and John Wells’ Far Niente earned $6,750 for running second, while Paul Jones and Thompson Racing’s Flay picked up $3,750 for third. Timely Delivery, Tsing Tao, Fiery Kimbo and Old Six Six completed the field.