LARC NEWS Posted: 12/18/2017 4:02:37 AM

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        Darling Farms, Jaime Gomez and Ernesto Solis’ J Fire Up completed a sensational campaign with a breathtaking daylight victory in California’s richest Quarter Horse race – the Grade 1, Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity – on the meet’s closing night Sunday at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Ridden by Jose Nicasio and saddled by Gomez, J Fire Up was in complete control of the $1,703,450 futurity, as she flew out of the gate from post number one, opened up a 1 ¼ length advantage and never gave an inch from there. The filly sired by Ed Allred’s Kiddy Up crossed the wire 1 ¼ length ahead of Gomez’s other runner in this race, Lisa Anderson’s Moonie Blues, who raced beautifully from post number two while ridden by Nicasio’s older brother, Eduardo Nicasio.

J Fire Up’s dominant victory in the Los Alamitos Two Million was the bow at the top of a wonderful season. The Gomez-bred sorrel filly also won the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity on November 5 and the Governor’s Cup Futurity on July 29. She nearly won the track’s other million dollar futurity as well, as she finished only a head behind the unbeaten KVN Corona in the Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 18. For the season, J Fire won seven of nine starts and finished second in her other two outings. J Fire Up earned $715,449 for win in the Los Alamitos Two Million to double her earnings for the season to $1,430,411, making her the leading money winner at Los Alamitos in 2017.

For Gomez, this was his second career win in this track’s richest race. The veteran trainer won this race with the legendary stallion Corona Cartel 21 years ago in 1996. Corona Cartel is the sire of the aforementioned Kiddy Up. Gomez’s 1-2 finish in the Los Alamitos Two Million earned his barn $1,005,036 on Sunday. With this sum, the trainer’s 2017 total is now at $2,868,388 to make him the meet’s leading trainer in money earned.

Gomez admits that he was keen on selling the filly in autumn of 2016.

“I raised this baby and I tried to sell her to everybody,” Gomez said. “I bought her back for $25,000 (at the 2016 Los Alamitos Equine Sale). I wanted $30,000 all of the time. This guy Dan Darling though, he’s like a lucky charm. Everything he touches turns to gold. He’s a super nice guy. He came up to me and he wanted to buy horses. He liked the filly and I said give me $20,000 and you can own half. That was the deal of his life. Our other partner, Ernesto, he’s worked for me for 23 years. I give him half (ownership) of babies all the time. He picked out this mare. He then said ‘Hey, how about the stallion?’ I said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay everything.’ I paid for the embryo. I paid the breeding and there she came. We should have kept 33% (each), but we sold the half to Dan Darling, but that’s okay,” Gomez added with a smile. “I’m happy and this night I’ll never forget.”

Gomez and Solis each 25% interest in the Los Alamitos Two Million winner.     

“That’s okay,” Gomez said. “The feeling, I think it’s better for me because that’s my baby, my mare, she’s like my daughter. I thank Doc for having these big races. I think J Fire Up should be the champion 2-year-old filly. She has three futurity wins, two of them in Grade 1  races, plus another futurity win and a second in another Grade 1. What else can I say?”

All season long, Gomez has praised J Fire Up’s soundness and athletic ability.

“She’s healthy all the time,” he said. “She comes out of the race like if she didn’t run. The next day she’s happy, kicking and bucking. That’s what you want from those horses. If a horse comes out a race and doesn’t eat for four or five days, you’re (toast). This horse comes back and eats well. You have to hand-walk her all the time because she’s kicking and bucking. If she hears something she wants to take off. In the stall, you can come over and you can do anything with her. You can pet her, you can do anything with her.”   

“J Fire Up has never made a mistake,” Gomez added. “She breaks like a bullet all the time. She just goes out there and runs her race every time. She came out the gates like a rabbit. Her mother, This Boogie Fires, was one of the fastest (mares) I had here. She got a little infection in the gut and I had to retire her early. She was sound. She can’t carry babies. I have to do embryos every time. She’s super nice. Everything she’s thrown has been a runner.

“J Fire Up has never made a mistake,” Gomez continued. “She breaks like a bullet all the time. She just goes out there and runs her race every time. She came out the gates like a rabbit. Her mother, (This Boogie Fires) was one of the fastest (mares) I had here. She got a little infection in the gut and I had to retire her early. She was sound. She can’t carry babies. I have to do embryos every time. She’s super nice. Everything she’s thrown has been a runner.”

A stop at the breeding shed could be next for J Fire Up.

“I’m going to x-ray this filly in a couple of days,” he added. “Then I’m going to turn her out. I want to get a One Famous Eagle out of her.”   

For Dan Darling, a dream year continues for the owner.

“We’ve just been blessed so much this year, so much more than we deserve between her and Hold Air Hostage,” he said. “She’s solid. She comes back. After the trials, Jaime told me that we could have run her the next day. I attribute half of it to the horse and half to Jaime. Jaime is a super trainer. With half of the starts as some other trainers, yet he’s got the most money earned. I had to twist his arm to sell me this filly. He tried to sell me one of the high dollar ones, but I told him, ‘No. I want that one (J Fire Up).’ I liked the way she was built. She had these shoulders. I like big horses, real big horses, and I just loved the way she moved. With Kiddy Up, I knew mainly that he was well bred. I liked the top and bottom side. I didn’t know much more about him, but I just really liked her.”  

Moonie Blues, who broke right next to J Fire Up, earned $289,587 for her runner-up effort to give the filly by Freighttrain B a total of $355,369 this season.

“I thought it was a bad deal to draw together (J Fire Up from the rail and Moonie Blues from post two), but it ended up being really good,” Gomez continued. “Eduardo Nicasio, who was in the two hole, has a lot of experience. They ran second. That’s a good filly for my owners. Eduardo said, ‘Jaime, I may beat.’ I said, ‘Well, if you beat me I’ll be the same. I’m really happy for Lisa and Denny Boer. She sent me this filly early after she made about $500 (in Idaho). She won her first time out here in :15.50 (at 300 yards). She’s a runner. I’m blessed with both.”

Reliance Ranches LLC’s Call Me Cole, the fastest qualifier to this race, bumped with his stablemate Peighnt Your Fate at the start and had to settle for third place from there. Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Mike Robbins, Call Me Cole earned $204,414 for his effort to take his lifetime earnings to $247,864.

EG High Desert Farms’ Matilda Czech earned $119,241 for her fourth place finish. Ridden by Cruz Mendez and trained by Valentin Zamudio, Matilda Czech was second by a nose in the Golden State Million. She’s now made $306,750 in her career. Scoopie Jess, Peighnt Your Fate, Jess My Kiss, Ditto Head, Remember The Rose, On Our Way completed the field.

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