When Oscar Andrade asked his wife, Elena, what she wanted for her birthday on December 1st, the longtime trainer had a simple request.
“I just want a photo with my two stakes qualifiers,” she said, referring to Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Jess Mas and Grade 2 Southern California Derby finalist Uno Corona Mas.
Her husband obliged and a few days later he snapped a photo of Andrade holding the two horses she bred, one in each hand.
That’s just one of many memorable photos that Andrade will carry with her for a long time, made even more special after her trainee, Uno Corona Mas, held off fastest qualifier Time For Jess by a head to win the $168,500 Southern California Derby on closing night of the meet at Los Alamitos. Live racing returns on Friday, December 30 with opening night of the new season.
For Andrade, Uno Corona Mas’ big win was the culmination of a lifelong dream. A fourth generation horsewoman, Andrade had made it her quest to one day breed a major stakes finalist. She’s done it several times in 2016 with Jess Mas, the One Sweet Jess filly that ran in the December 11th $1,950,050 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity after qualifying on November 20, and also with Uno Corona Mas, a three-time derby finalist this year. Both horses are owned in partnership by her husband, Oscar, and Dr. Steve Burns. Saddling a runner in the Two Million Futurity was a thrill for Andrade. Winning the Southern California Derby left her speechless for a few minutes.
“This was huge,” she said. “First with the filly (Jess Mas) to make it into a Grade 1 and now him. That’s been my ultimate goal, to raise a Grade 1 horse, to own it train it and raise it. I’m sure I have a few texts right now (from Steve and Jo Rae Burns) and phone calls. We’ve been here and qualified with Jess Mas to the Los Alamitos Two Million, but to raise a horse, that’s always been my ultimate deal. This started out as a birthday deal. It’s been a nice Christmas. This is all that I wanted.”
After the race, Elena’s mother, former trainer Betsy Mora, joked that she should be in the running for ‘Broodmare of the Year.’ Not only was Betsy enjoying Elena’s first stakes win, her younger daughter, Angela Aquino, was recognized earlier that evening for having finished as the meet’s leading Thoroughbred trainer.
“My mom came (to the track) for my sister,” Elena said. “It turned out to be a great night for my mom to come and witness (the Southern California Derby). It’s because of her that this is where we are, she instilled the love of horses in us.”
Andrade was confident in Uno Corona Mas’ chances going into the meet’s final derby.
“I felt really good because I knew after the trials that we had some horse left. (Winning rider Jesus Rios Ayala) had told me that he asked him (in the trials), but he felt (he was going) good enough to get by through the trials and qualify. I felt really good going into this race because it’s the best he’s ever felt and soundness wise this is the best he’s ever been. I felt really good coming into it. As a 2-year-old, he’s just been one of those unlucky horses. I knew it was just a matter of time when everything lined out.”
Andrade’s “Oso”, which is Spanish for bear, found the honey pot in the end.
“We call him ‘Oso’ because as a baby he was a big furball. He’s got one eye smaller than the other. He just looked like a brown bear. He had the little bear eyes,” she added with a smile.
Now it’s back to work for Team Andrade and by the looks of it the team is stronger than ever.
“It’s been a family business with my son and Oscar, but we’re growing,” she said. “My boy, he’s starting to gallop, so next year he’ll be a big part of the team. He broke all the babies last year. He’s 15, he’s a sophomore, but he’s already been into this for years pretty strongly. We give him a yearling every year. The last yearling, a Favorite Cartel, he ended up selling and that horse went to do good things. He went to Chicago and won a futurity out there. He’s got a half-brother that’s paid into the Kindergarten. He moved to Hemet so that he could be closer to a ranch and sharpen his skills.”
“I’m thrilled for my wife,” added Oscar Andrade, a former top rider at Los Alamitos. “She needed a race like this. She’s always worked so hard and has put a lot of effort into this. This is a huge win for us, but more importantly for her and for everything she does. We’ve worked hard to get to this point, but here’s the bread of that work. My boy, it looks like he wants to continue the family tradition of working with horses. He helps us so much and he supports us a great deal as well. My heart is beating pretty hard today. This has been a wonderful day for us.”
Out of the Corona Cartel mare Corona Mas Fina, Uno Corona Mas earned $70,770 for the win to take his career earnings to $103,202. Also a finalist to the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and PCQHRA Winter Derby, Uno Corona Mas was enjoying his third win in 11 starts.
Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess earned $28,645 for running second. The Apollitical Jess filly took her career earnings to $270,734 while finishing a strong sophomore campaign in which she won the Adequan California Derby and was second in the Miss Princess Handicap and third in the Los Alamitos Super Derby. She finished in the top three in nine of 10 starts this season for trainer Lin Melton. Carlos Huerta piloted her in the Southern California Derby.
Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Dynasty Energy earned $20,220 for running third for trainer Chris O’Dell. Stevie B First Cash, Ima Fearless Hero, Jess A Pollitician, We Like Corona, Nymph and Thermonuclear Energy completed the field. Jess Good Reason reared back when the gates opened. She completed the field.