Juan Jose Romo, Jr.’s First N Final, the only mare in the field, outdueled six talented geldings to post an upset win in the $25,000 Cypress Handicap on Friday night at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Luis Rene Yescas for trainer Valentin Zamudio, First N Final was tremendous in the 350-yard race, as she finished a half-length ahead of Good Looker in a time of :17.469. Sent off at 13-1 odds, First N Final was second at the start, but she was too strong in the final 100 yards, running past Free Swinger and then fending off the late charge from Jose Antonio Moreno’s Good Looker. First N Final, the third place finisher in the La Pimera Del Ano Derby last year, earned $13,750 for her Cypress win. The Favorite Cartel mare has won five of 18 starts and has earned $67,270 in her career.
“We claimed her for $10,000 and she’s been a great runner for us,” Zamudio said. “She just beat some tough boys. It’s tough out here, but she always gives us her all and never lets us down. She has a big, big heart.”
The now 4-year-old mare was claimed on October 17, 2015 out of race that she won by a neck. The then 2-year-old filly made her first start for Zamudio in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and she ran extremely well, running third to Sale Topper in that race. She would go on to finish in the money in her next three races at the claiming levels of $20,000 and $16,000 before winning her La Primera trial by daylight. She ran only behind only multiple stakes winners Jess Good Reason and Jess Ravin in the $227,000 La Primera and since then she’s run third in the AQHA Members Plus Stakes and seventh in the Las Damas Handicap. The Cypress Handicap represents her first ever stakes win.
“We might send her to the breeding shed next,” Zamudio said. “I’ll talk to her owner and come up with a plan, but it’s breeding season right now.”
As for Yescas, the 22-year-old jockey was enjoying his second win of the night and second win of the season at Los Alamitos. The young pilot had ridden in Arizona before traveling to southern California.
Ridden by G. Jairo Rangel for trainer Jose Antonio Moreno, Good Looker earned $5,625 for his runner-up effort in this race. The 4-year-old Walk Thru Fire gelding has finished in the money in six of 18 career starts. Abigail Kawananakoa’s Free Swinger, the runner-up in last month’s A Ransom Handicap, earned $3,125 for running third. Cesar De Alba piloted him for Paul Jones. Snitching, Makin Moments, Viento Negro and Unclaimed Dividend completed the field.