Owned and bred by Abigail Kawananakoa, Trippys Royal Jess put it all together in her trial to the $220,400 La Primera Del Ano Derby at 400 yards, as she held off Veronica Gail Worth’s late flying longshot Red And Ready to post the fastest qualifying time to the April 1st final on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Twenty-eight runners competed in four trials with the fillies with the 10 fastest times advancing to the 40TH running of the La Primera Del Ano Derby. The runner-up in the Seal Beach Handicap in her last start on January 28, Trippys Royal Jess broke nicely from post number five and went on to a strong finish and the top clocking of the night of :19.857. Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer Chris O’Dell, Trippys Royal Jess picked up her fourth victory in 10 lifetime starts.
“She was good in the gate,” said De Alba of Trippys Royal Jess, which had been fractious in the gate on the night of the Seal Beach Handicap. “The headman did an awesome job today with her and she got away in good shape and she finished great today. She was finishing last time (Seal Beach). She just needed more distance. With the distance (tonight) it helped her. After about 150 yards she really took off and finished strong.”
This is the second consecutive stakes trial that Trippys Royal Jess has won. The filly by Apollitical Jess also won her trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, also with a tremendous finish, back on November 20. Her mother, Trippys Royal Dash, was an allowance winner at Los Alamitos and a participant of the 2005 First Place Queen Handicap.
EG High Desert Farms’ homebred Sweet Aguila had a very similar race to Trippys Royal Jess while posting the second fastest qualifying time. The One Sweet Jess filly was second at the start, took the lead at the halfway mark and then finished great to post a half-length victory in a time of :19.972. Sweet Aguila will now be making the second stakes appearance of her career. She qualified to the $430,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity last year.
“She’s not fast out of the gates, but she finishes strong,” said trainer Yanet Rodriguez. “She’s a filly that we’ve had trouble with because it’s hard to maintain her weight. That’s been an issue with her, but thankfully we’ve gotten her to eat now.”
Sweet Aguila, which picked up her second win in nine career starts, is out of the multiple Grade 1 stakes finalist First Magical Dash. She was sixth in the 2008 Ed Burke Million Futurity and fourth in the 2009 Governor’s Cup Derby. First Magical Dash also participate in the 2010 Los Alamitos Winter Championship, a race that featured Champion of Champions winners Freaky and Jess You And I and multiple Grade 1 winner Separate Bet.
Sweet Aguila was one of two trial winners sired by One Sweet Jess on the night. The stallion is also the sire of Oscar Andrade and Steve Burns’ Jess Mas, the winner of the opening heat. Bred and trained by Elena Andrade, Jess Mas led from start to finish, crossing the wire a half-length ahead of Start Somethin Bad while posting the fourth fastest time of :19.992. Jess Mas qualified to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last year and came into this race after posting a head victory in an allowance race on February 11.
“This is a pretty special filly,” Elena Andrade said. “I have a full brother and raised her mom. To make it to the big races with one you raised, it’s pretty awesome. She came into this race with a big heart. She just came off a win. It was a shorter race so she got a little tired in this one. She’s been training like a beast.”
The third fastest qualifier was the aforementioned 18-1 longshot Red And Ready, a Walk Thru Fire filly that ran second in the California Breeders Freshman Stakes for fillies last year. Roberto Hernandez piloted Red And Ready for trainer Paul Jones. Ed Allred bred the sorrel filly.
The complete list of qualifiers to the La Primera Del Ano Derby is as follows: Trippys Royal Jess (:19.857), Sweet Aguila (:19.972), Red And Ready (:19.990), Jess Mas (:19.992), Jess Pretending (:20.009), Hooting For Hotlips (:20.012), Tough To Figure (:20.046), Janes Cartel (:20.064), Start Somethin Bad (:20.070), Smell Perfume (:20.087).