Dutch Masters III’s Imaqtpie came into the Grade 1, $224,900 Los Alamitos Winter Derby with the least amount of wins, starts and money earned among all the starters in the 400-yard. She came out of the race as Quarter Horse racing’s first Grade 1 derby winner in 2017 after upsetting eight rivals at 11-1 odds on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
With Rodrigo Aceves in the irons for trainer Jaime Gomez, Imaqtpie defeated fastest qualifier Jess Hawk by ¾ lengths while covering the distance in :19.67 on a wet fast track. The filly by One Famous Eagle was fifth at the start of the race, but quickly made up ground and was pulling away from her rivals with each stride at the end of the race. Now a winner of two of eight starts, the Gomez-bred runner earned $94,458 to take her lifetime earnings to $105,358. Her earnings could have easily been much higher with just a little more luck last season.
“She was the 11th fastest qualifier to the Golden State Million Futurity and the 11th fastest qualifier to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity,” Gomez said. “She was just milliseconds away from qualifying to the two richest races at Los Alamitos last year. We just had some bad luck, but we knew she was capable of doing great things. We just couldn’t have any mistakes and she didn’t make any tonight.”
For James Streelman of Dutch Masters III, the win represented his first ever victory in the Winter Derby.
“She blew them away,” he said. “She was only 3/100ths of a second off the fastest qualifier in the trials and was the third fastest qualifier. She likes the inside. When we came to the Vessels Club (at Los Alamitos) tonight, my wife saw the beautiful (Winter Derby) trophy and said ‘wouldn’t it be nice to take that trophy home?’ I told her, ‘yes, but don’t count on it.’ I was talking to Jaime after the draw about the number one post, but he told me not to worry about it. He liked that spot for our filly.
Jaime Gomez had seen what Imaqtpie could do from the number one post.
“Her only win came from the rail and I really like that spot when it rains,” he added.
“We were in the race and that’s what matters,” Streelman continued. “The entire field was separated by only a length (based on the trials times) so it was a very wide open race. If she could just leave out of there I knew we had a chance.”
Two Feathers Series, LLC’s Blueeyedeagle was the early leader along with Abigail Kawananakoa’s Staggering Stride and EG High Desert Farms’ Jess Hawk. Then came the flying Imaqtpie to record the win.
“I paid too much for her, but she finally came through for us tonight,” said Streelman with a laugh. “If you ever go out to Jaime’s ranch and see the horses that he raises, you just don’t see better looking babies than those. I end up buying half of them. Jaime does a great job. He does a great job at the ranch and does a great job at the racetrack. We’ve been together for over 20 years, almost 30. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m not stupid either. If my trainer wasn’t any good, we wouldn’t be here.”
Gomez has long been known as the king of the 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos having won a slew of futurities during his career at Los Alamitos. He’s also won his share of derbies and has bred some nice horses over the years.
“It’s like seeing one of your kids graduate from school,” he said of Imaqtpie’s win. “I really like this filly. She’s gotten bigger and bigger and her mother, Sizzling, is one of the best mamas that I have. She’s one of the top black type mares that I have in the breeding shed. I have a full 2-year-old sister to Imaqtpie here at the track and two Walk Thru Fire yearlings and two more coming. We raise a nice bunch of babies every year at my little 13-acre ranch in Murrietta. We feed them pretty well and take good care of them.”
And the successful partnership of Dutch Masters III and Jaime Gomez continues at Los Alamitos.
“He’s supported me for the past 30 years and has always stuck with me,” Gomez said. “We’ve won a lot of stakes and he’s been an AQHA champion owner with me (in 2001 and 2005). We raced the great Higher Fire. We’ve done well.”
More derbies are now in store for Imaqtpie.
“She’ll go in the La Primera Del Ano Derby trials and (Winter Derby sixth place finisher) Katella Deli will go in the El Primero Del Ano Derby trials,” Streelman said. “Chazaq (winner of the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity in 2016) will be back in two months and Summer Dynasty, which ran second in the Flare For Toby Handicap last night, will go to the breeding farm to a couple of stallions.”
Imaqtpie and Katella Deli are both eligible to run in the trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby this autumn.
Fillies dominated the Winter Derby, as they took the top four spots in the marquee derby of the early part of the season at the Orange County track. Trained by Yanet Rodriguez and ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, the One Sweet Jess filly Jess Hawk earned $38,233 for running second. Rod MacPherson Jr. Living Trust’s Kiddy Up Cowgirl, a filly by Kiddy Up trained by James Glenn, Jr., finished third and earned $26,988 in the process, while Kawananakoa’s Staggering Stride, a filly by Mr Jess Perry under the tutelage of Chris O’Dell, added $15,743 to her bank account by running fourth. The Bret Vickery-trained Blueeyedeagle, a gelding by One Dashing Eagle, was the top boy with a fifth place finish. He earned $13,494. Katella Deli, Bannister, Jouet With Fire and the 5-2 favorite One Proud Eagle completed the field.
Blueeyedeagle was ridden by Jairo Rangel, who picked up the mount in place of Cruz Mendez. The latter was dismounted from his mount right after the completion of the seventh race after breaking a reign. Mendez was seen walking into the ambulance, but was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center for evaluation on Saturday night after complaining of back and neck pain. Mendez is a four-time leading Quarter Horse jockey at Los Alamitos. He piloted World Champion Heza Dasha Fire to victory in the 2015 Champion of Champions.