LARC NEWS Posted: 12/17/2017 3:48:28 AM

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           Owned by the partnership of Denise and Ron Van Amburgh and Jose Flores, the 60-1 longshot Mr Pyc To You posted the most shocking upset in the 45-year-history of the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions after outfinishing 2015 AQHA world champion Heza Dasha Fire by a half-length in the 440-yard classic Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Carlos Huerta, Mr Pyc To You returned $123 for the win, easily the highest payout ever in the Champion of Champions. The previous record was held by another Mr –  Mr Doty Bars - on December 22, 1979. Trained by John Cooper, Mr Doty Bars returned $46.20 for his Cinderella win over a field that included the favorite Town Policy, eventual runner-up Pacific Dream and 1978 Champion of Champion winner Miss Thermolark.

Saddled by Flores, Mr Pyc To You beat a superstar field of his own on Saturday. In addition to Heza Dasha Fire, The Mixer Ranch-bred runner also defeated Zoomin For Spuds, the defending Champion of Champions winner, BH Lisas Boy, who entered the race a perfect six for six in 2017, and Grade 1 winners Jess Good Reason, He Looks Hot, Time For Jess, Chazaq, and The Fiscal Cliff.  

“(Mr Pyc To You) got it done,” said Flores, who also trains Heza Dasha Fire. “I guess I had nice horses in this race. Both of them were equal and they showed it today. It’s a great bunch of horses. They did great. I thought Heza Dasha Fire had it won. At the midway point I thought Heza Dasha Fire had him.  At the last jump I see the black horse (Mr Pyc To You) and I said ‘Did he get him?’ I had mixed emotions. I was happy for Van Amburghs and myself and I was sad for my other horse (Heza Dasha Fire) too. Heza Dasha Fire was training well and I though he was good enough. I just think Mr Pyc To You ran the race of his life and did it at the right time.”

Mr Pyc To You, a 4-year-old stallion by Pyc Paint Your Wagon, made the field to the Champion of Champions after Firing Tools tested positive for the B2-agonist Clenbuterol on the post-race hair testing conducted at the University of California, Davis following the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials. As a result, Firing Tools could not participate in the Champion of Champions.

“I told the Van Amburghs, ‘He’s in there,’ ” said Flores after hearing the news that Mr Pyc To You would join the 10-horse field in the Champion of Champions. “We were hoping for him to hit the board in order to get him more credentials to become a stallion. He showed he’s that kind of caliber horse. He was a good horse and qualified to a Grade 1 futurity before, but he’s just now getting better and better. We got lucky to get in the race.”

Mr Pyc To You covered the 440 yards in :21.618 and earned $375,000 for the win to take his career earnings to $473,686. This was his sixth win in 20 career starts. He had previously qualified to the Rainbow Futurity in 2015 and ran in the First Down Dash Handicap at Ruidoso Downs in 2016. He was fourth to BH Lisas Boy in this year’s Los Alamitos Winter Championship and Kaweah Bar Handicap and second to Flash N Bling in the Bank of America California Challenge Championship. He also competed in the Go Man Go Handicap and in the Bank of America Challenge Championship final.    

In the Champion of Champions, Mr Pyc To You was not too far back from the sharp breaking Heza Dasha Fire in the first half of the race. He really got going in the second half, as he made up the half-length that Heza Dasha Fire initially had on him and even turned in to half-length win in his favor thanks to that great closing kick. This is Pyc To You’ first stakes win of his career  

“We’re shocked and excited,” Denise Van Amburgh said.

“We just want to thank Doc Allred,” Ron Van Amburgh added. “He’s the only reason we’re still in racing. When he decided to clean up the sport we were fixing to get out of it.  I can’t thank Doc Allred enough for making that commitment. If it wasn’t for him the industry would be gone.”

The Van Amburghs own two-thirds of Mr Pyc To You while Flores owns the other one-third. Flores became part owner of this horse earlier this year. The Van Amburghs had previously campaigned the Oklahoma-bred in partnership with Jimmy Harrel and Howard Nichols.     

 “Mr Pyc To You qualified as a 2-year-old to the Rainbow Futurity, but then he slabbed,” Ron Van Amburgh added. “Then at Ruidoso (as a 3-year-old), he qualified for all three derby consolations. We knew we had a good horse that liked 440. That was our only thing. The Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial was at 400 and we felt that he needed 440. We were hoping (to get in the Champion of Champions) as he was the first alternate. For this horse to do this, what a blessing it is.”

Racing for S-Quarter K LLC, Heza Dasha Fire earned $120,000 for his second place finish to raise his career bankroll to $2,167,987. The gelding by Walk Thru Fire is the second horse to finish in the top two in the Champion of Champions three times. The great Refrigerator won three Champion of Champions in a row (1992-94) and Heza Dasha Fire has a win in 2015 and now two consecutive second place finishes.  

“He broke perfect and left like he’s supposed to,” Flores said. “We gave him a little breeze in between. The horse looked good and galloping him quite a bit and just building up air in him. It takes a while to get going the right way. The horse was training well and though the horse was good enough. I was crushed because of Heza Dasha Fire, but happy for my other horse and my partners. At the midway point I thought Heza Dasha Fire had him. He gave up the lead in the last 20 yards.”

Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Heza Dasha Fire has 15 wins and five seconds in 21 career starts. He was second by a head to Zoomin For Spuds in last year’s Champion of Champions and now second by a half-length in the Champion of Champions. He was 3/100ths of a second away from winning the race last year and now 5/100ths of a second from winning this year. Only 8/100ths of a second separate him from equaling Refrigerator’s feat of three straight Champion of Champions wins.

Jim Walker’s Zoomin For Spuds earned $75,000 for finishing third in this year’s Champion of Champions. The Monty Arrossa-trained gelding was fourth for most of the race before running past Charger Bar Handicap winner Jess Good Reason at the end to move up to third. Zoomin For Spuds has earned $530,073 in his career.

Owned by the late Cina and John Sperry, Jess Good Reason earned $52,500 for running fourth. The winner of first division of the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials last month, Jess Good Reason was right behind Heza Dasha Fire early on, but couldn’t keep up in the final 100 yards. Her lifetime earnings now stand at $430,734. Bill Hoburg’s BH Lisas Boy took his first loss of the year while having to settle for fifth place. Jesus Daniel Padilla’s lightly raced gelding Da One Two Special was sixth and was followed by Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot, Spackman Racing’s Time For Jess, Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq, and Whitmire Ranch’s The Fiscal Cliff.

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