For owner Jeff Aldstadt, the result of the Grade 3 $220,400 La Primera Del Ano Derby was more than three decades in the making. For his partners, Jeff and Kim Pitcher, the La Primera brought back the great memories that the couple enjoyed while racing the three-time stakes winner Tiene Mucho Blanco in 2002 and 2003. For those that watched the race, it was one of the finishes of the year with the Aldstadt and Pitcher-owned filly Start Somethin Bad holding off Ed Allred’s Tough To Figure by a nose with Abigail Kawananakoa’s Staggering Stride just another nose back in third place on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Those involved in the finish of the La Primera had to wait several minutes for the final result, but in the end it was Start Somethin Bad which gave her owners something great to remember on the night of the La Primera Del Ano at 400 yards.
“It’s an Incredible moment,” said Aldstadt, who met Jones about 20 years ago at a local restaurant in Orange County before owning horses with the eventual champion trainer. “I am ecstatic right now. I’ve been in the game for years, probably three decades plus. I’ve had a lot of good time. This is just so much fun and to share it with all my friends and family, that’s what makes it special. I wasn’t watching the race on TV. I was down by the finish line with about 80 people. I thought we got there, but we had to wait it out. The result went our way. It added to the thrill. We had about 100 people here and next time we’ll get 200 people here, that’s how much fun we have when this filly runs.”
Jones, who was picking a new record fifth La Primera Del Ano victory, was emotional with the victory as well. The trainer won this race with longtime client John Sperry’s Jess Good Reason last year and prior to that he had also been in the winner’s circle with Revv Me Up (2013), Louisiana Eye Opener (2005) and More Heart (2001).
“This win is real special,” he said. “Jeff Aldstadt has been an owner of mine for many years. He had horses with me back 20 years ago and we’ve had a lot of fun together throughout the years. With partners Jeff and Kim Pitcher, Jeff runs my ranch for me and takes care of all my horses out in Temecula. He’s been a great part of this team. He raised this filly himself out there in the ranch. It’s really nice to get a win for him and it’s well deserved. The Pitchers have been a part of my team for a lot of years. They raised (champion and millionaire) Foose and a lot of horses for me at the farm. It’s really nice that they got one of their own to step up and win a big race. It’s a big thrill for them.”
Jones trained Tiene Mucho Blanco for the Pitchers more than a decade ago and conditioned the runner to victories in the Dillingham Handicap, Super Bowl Handicap and Moss Landing Handicap. For the Pitchers breeding a stakes winner with the bloodlines of Tiene Mucho Blanco became a dream of theirs ever since.
“We haven’t been in the winner’s circle (after a stakes race) since her uncle Tiene Mucho Blanco,” Jeff said. “ It’s been a long, dry road. It’s amazing and it’s a lot of fun right now. (Start Somethin Bad’s) mother is a full sister to Tiene and we’ve been hoping and praying to get a good one and we finally got one. It’s a lot of fun to raise one.”
Sired by Pappasito and out of the Splash Bac mare Letsgetitstarted, Start Somethin Bad picked up her third victory in 11 career starts, this one at 10-1 odds. Last year, this California-bred filly was the fastest qualifier to the $430,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and was the eventual seventh place finisher in the final.
“After the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity the next morning she had a 104 degree temperature so we felt that maybe she was a little sick going into the race,” Jeff added. “It is what it is, but we’re happy to have had her 100 percent tonight.”
With Ramon Sanchez in the irons, Start Somethin Bad broke just a step behind Tough To Figure, but she immediately challenged the leader and began to make up a tiny bit of ground with each stride. With a powerful final few strides, the gray filly got the wire first, covering the distance in a time of :19.823. Sanchez, who piloted Tiene Mucho Blanco in two of those stakes wins, picked up career stakes win number 139. He is now nine away from tying Eddie Garcia for the all-time record for stakes wins at Los Alamitos. Sanchez, who won the El Primero Del Ano Derby last year, first won this race with the aforementioned Revv Me Up.
Start Something Bad earned $92,568 for the win to take her career earnings to $125,193. The filly had been in good form, running second in the $30,000 Los Alamitos Invitational Stakes and second in her derby trial to this race. She was also fourth in the Seal Beach Handicap, a race that also featured the game Tough To Figure.
Ridden by Gary Boag for trainer Scott Willoughby, Tough To Figure earned $37,468 for running second. Sired by Walk Thru Fire and out of the Raise A Secret mare Big Jan, the Allred-bred Tough To Figure has finished second or better in five of eight career starts. She’s also been in the money in all three of her stakes starts. She was second in the Holiday Handicap on December 30 and third in the Seal Beach on January 28.
Kawananakoa’s Staggering Strides earned $26,448 for running third with jockey Cesar De Alba aboard for trainer Chris O’Dell. The 2-1 favorite in this race, Staggering Stride broke out leaving the gate and had to fly in the second half of the race to make a three-horse photo finish. John Andreini and Vince Genco’s Hootin For Hotlips finished fourth and was followed across the wire by Red And Ready, Jess Mas, Jess Pretending, Sweet Aguila, Smell Perfume and Janes Cartel.