LARC NEWS Posted: 1/21/2018 1:10:36 AM

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         Fortuna Properties Inc.’s Ditto Head repeated what he’s done before in his previous trial races– he won again – while posting the fastest qualifying time to the Grade 1 $215,450 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Saturday night.

The Alessio/Brown/Davies LLC’s bred runner is now a perfect three for three in trial events and he’s advanced to the stakes final each time. He’ll now have the honor of being the fastest qualifier to the Winter Derby final to be held here on Saturday, February 10. Ditto Head is named after the moniker that radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh calls his listeners.

“I got Ditto Head’s name from listening to the radio show,” said Dominique “Bud” Alessio before his gelding ran in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last December.

Raised at Fred Scane’s ranch in Temecula, California, Ditto Head took control of his Winter Derby trials a few strides after the start and went on to post a neck victory over Dr. Steve Burns’ Ray Donovan in a 400-yard time of :19.770. Ray Donovan finished as the second fastest qualifier with a time of :19.800 while the third place finisher from this trial, J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley’s Fenian Faith, finished with the third fastest qualifying time of :19.840.

“I think this race will give (Ditto Head) some confidence because he didn’t break well and he had to go up through the horses. (Jockey Cesar Gomez) said he just dug in and went to the front. We are really happy with him. Cesar grew up in the same part of the country that I did (Colorado) and I was really happy to see him out here. He’s really doing a nice job. We’re from the same town in Colorado.”

 Ditto Head is the second foal out of Lavish La Jolla, a broodmare that had previously produced 2012 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Lavish Susan. Lavish Susan went on to qualify to the Los Alamitos Super Derby, La Primera Del Ano Derby and Southern California Derby in 2013. Ditto Head has duplicated Lavish Susan’s accomplishment of also being a derby qualifier.  

Alessio is currently the president of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association, a post that he has held since 1993. Alessio’s family operated Ruidoso Downs and Sunland Park in the early 1970s, before selling the famous track in the Ruidoso mountains to the Ruidoso Jockey Club. Alessio was part of the ownership group the first year that the All American Futurity offered a $1 million purse in 1978.

Ray Donovan, a full-brother to 2015 All American Futurity finalist Crooked Path, will make his stakes debut in the Winter Derby. He had previously finished second and third to the Grade 1 stakes placed runner Call Me Cole in trials to the Golden State Million Futurity and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Ramon Sanchez rode Ray Donovan for trainer Paul Jones.

Trainer Juan Aleman had good night of Winter Derby trials. He saddled the Apollitical Jess filly Fenian Faith to the third fastest time, qualified Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity winner Fire And Sass with the seventh fastest time, and also qualified Link Newcomb’s Twenty One Gunz after he won trial number four while posting the ninth fastest qualifying time.

“I had ridden Twenty One Gunz before,” said winning rider Jairo Rangel. “I had an injury so a couple of other riders got on him. I had a chance to get back on him on Tuesday morning and an opportunity to ride him again tonight. He behaved great in the starting gate and left out there straight. He finished extremely well. He made it look easy at the end. He didn’t make any mistakes. We’ll see how he does in the final.”

Twenty One Gunz, a gelding by First Moonflash, covered the distance in :19.941 while winning by ¾ lengths.

Five trials were contested on Saturday night and all five trial winners advanced to the 400-yard final. In addition to Ditto Head and Twenty One Gunz, CM Boom Shakalaka, Yanque and Matilda Czech won their respective trials and moved on to the final.

Owned by Randy Dickerson and trained by Monty Arrossa, CM Boom Shakalaka posted the fourth fastest qualifying time of :19.848 following his half-length score over the aforementioned Fire And Sass in the final trial of the night.  

“It looked like the horse broke a little off,” Arrossa began. “He kind of broke into the side of the gate, but he really came around at the end. I’ve only had the horse for about three weeks. The horse had run in the Intermountain area and won the Juvenile Regional Challenge at Emerald Downs. They took him to Prairie Meadows and ran him in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge final there. He won the Portland Meadows Fall Futurity. Nick Lowe trained him and they’ve done a good job with the horse. They sent him down here and they made my job easy. All I’ve had to do is keep him happy him and lead him over here.”

When it comes to his new arrivals, Arrossa believes one of main priorities is getting the horses acclimated to their new surroundings.

“Mostly is getting them acclimated to the lights,” he said. “I always worry about horse’s first start here. This was (CM Boom Shakalaka’s) first start here, but he ran great. Usually our horses run a little better second time under the lights. Hopefully that happens with this horse. We just like to make them comfortable and keep them happy. Like I said, this was easy. Nick did all the work on the horse. We just had to lead him out here.”

Martha Wells and trainer Matt Fales also enjoyed a fine performance from the talented Yanque. The fastest qualifier to the Wild West Futurity last year, Yanque was sixth at the start of his trial before flying late to win by a head over a pair of Los Alamitos Two Million finalists in Moonie Blues and Jess My Kiss. Moonie Blues ended up finishing second behind AQHA champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly J Fire Up. Yanque was making his first start since being bumped hard in the Wild West final on October 29.

“It feels amazing to have the horse come back after that rough race and run strong against Moonie Blues, who everybody has a ton of respect for,” Fales said. “This horse is meant to be a stalker. We’re going to get the money one of these days. He’s in good shape. We just want to keep him healthy.”

Ramon Sanchez piloted the gelding by Favorite Cartel.

EG High Desert Farms’ Matilda Czech, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity and fourth place finisher in the Los Alamitos Two Million, posted her fourth trial victory in her career. She’s never lost in a trial race and is now a three-time Grade 1 finalist. Cruz Mendez rode the daughter of Fast Prize Cartel for trainer Lorenzo Campuzano.  

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Ditto Head (:19.770), Ray Donovan (:19.800), Fenian Faith (:19.840), CM Boom Shakalaka (:19.848), Yanque (:19.869), Moonie Blues (:19.881), Fire And Sass (:19.900), Matilda Czech (:19.928), Twenty One Gunz (:19.941), and Jess My Kiss (:19.952).

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