LARC NEWS Posted: 1/20/2018 1:02:53 AM

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       One racing night after celebrating his 80th birthday, trainer John Cooper was back doing what he does best: winning stakes races at Los Alamitos Race Course. The veteran trainer saddled Ron Hartley’s talented homebred One Proud Eagle to a strong victory in the $25,000 Cypress Handicap on Friday night.

Ridden by Cesar De Alba from post number seven, One Proud Eagle covered the 350 yards in :17.573 while picking up his fourth stakes victory. The gray gelding by One Famous Eagle won three stakes races in 2016 starting with the Grade 3 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity, followed by the Grade 2 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship, and then the Holiday Handicap. He was third in the PCQHRA Breeders Derby last year and also competed in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby.

And does winning a stakes race at age 80, feel the same as winning one at age 79?

“Absolutely,” Cooper said. “Maybe a little better. They get farther between, you know. (One Proud Eagle) is a nice horse. We had to do a little surgery on him. That’s why he had not been around, but he’s coming around nicely. We are thinking of a few nice races for him down the road.”

One of those races could be the Moonist Handicap on March 25. That’s a race that would mean a lot to Hartley and Cooper as it is named after the great champion that the two of them teamed up to race in 2014 and 2015 to great success.

“Let’s hope for the Moonist,” Hartley said. “That’s the one I’d like to win. It would be great. It would be really nice, super good. I told Cesar, this horse makes you look like a good rider. I was joking, of course, because Cesar is always excellent.”

One Proud Eagle left the gate beautifully and sailed to the lead from there. He was ahead of Governor’s Cup Derby winner Evil Genius by a half-length about 100 yards into the race. He maintained that lead throughout, hitting the wire a half-length ahead of the Abigail Kawananakoa and Paul Jones-owned runner. One Proud Eagle earned $13,750 for the win to take his career earnings to $318,733. He’s won seven of 14 career starts.

Ridden by Oscar Peinado, Evil Genius earned $5,625 for running second. This was his best result since his 14-1 upset victory in the Governor’s Cup. The gelding by Favorite Cartel also went over the $100,000 mark with this runner-up effort. He’s now earned $103,660 in his career.

One Proud Eagle and Evil Genius were two of the seven stakes winners in this talented Cypress field. A1A Racing LLC’s Tarzanito, winner of the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap last year, finished third and 2016 Governor’s Cup Futurity winner AJS Anna Smoke ran fourth. GS Wintermeyer was fifth and was followed across the wire by Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap winner Jess A Cowboy, First Down Dash Handicap winner Viento Negro, and El Primero Del Ano Derby winner Stelfast.

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