LARC NEWS Posted: 2/18/2018 1:14:34 AM

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       Owners C.K. and Laurel Allen enjoyed their first ever stakes victory after their talented mare Strawfinders Jessee pulled away from her rivals to win the $35,000 Denim N Diamonds Handicap for California-breds on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

 

The victory, a length decision over multiple Grade 1 finalist Jess Mas, left the Allens at a loss for words in the winner’s circle, but right now it’s Strawfinders Jessee that’s letting her running do all the talking for her camp. The 5-year-old mare by One Sweet Jess has now won eight of 23 starts, but she’s finished in the top three in 18 of those outings. She has also clearly established herself as one of the top aged mares on the grounds, as she’s now been a stakes placed runner in six different stakes races.

 

The Denim N Diamonds at 350 yards is her first stakes win, but she’s also hit the board in the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap on January 7, where she ran third to Kiddy Up Cowgirl, and in the California Breeders Matron Stakes last year, running third to Maggie Durant. Strawfinders Jessee was also second in the Grade 3 Las Damas Handicap on November 25 to Thermonuclear Energy, who then finished second in the Charger Bar.

 

“We started in claiming races so winning a race like (the Denim N Diamonds) is so amazing for us,” Laurel Allen said. “Strawfinders Jessee has been so special. We just love her.”

 

The Allens began their time as racehorse owner by seeing their horses run in over 130 races – all of them of the maiden and claiming variety. And then came their homebred Strawfinders Jessee. Out of the mare Strawfinder, Strawfinders Jessee ran just twice during her freshman year, but she was third in her debut and then a maiden winner in her second career start. She came back with a solid sophomore campaign, winning a pair of allowance races in consecutive starts – beating 2017 Champion of Champions winner Mr PYC To You in one of those allowance events. She then ran third in the 2016 James Smith Memorial Handicap and another stakes placed effort soon followed, this one in the California Debutante Stakes. All in all, she made 10 starts and hit the board in seven of those outings, while giving the Allens their first taste of stakes racing action. 

 

 “We owe it all to (trainer) John Cooper,” said Allen, a structural engineer, referring to the filly’s conditioner. “John will let us know what’s next for Jessee.”

 

The Allens and Cooper have been a team since the early 2000s. They teamed up to race Rate Me Royal, which took the Allens to the winner’s circle 8 times in 31 starts while racing up and down the claiming ladder at the Orange County track. The Allens also enjoyed three wins with Strawfinders Jessee’s mother, the Strawflyin Buds mare Strawfinder, whom the Allens also bred. Appropriately enough her mother is an On A High mare named What A Find, which is exactly these horses are now proving to be for the Allens.

 

“We’re just having so much fun,” Allen said.

 

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, who swept last weekend’s Los Alamitos Winter Derby and Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship, Strawfinders Jessee covered the 350-yard distance in :17.498 and earned $19,250 for the win. She’s now earned $107,017 in her career.

 

Owned by Oscar Andrade and Steve Burns, Jess Mas earned $7,875 for running second. Ridden by Juan Ramirez for trainer Elena Andrade, Jess Mas broke nicely and was 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third place finisher Zendaya. One Sweet Runner finished fourth and was followed across the wire by Precious Dominique, One Sweet Winner, You Can Fly, Maggie Durant, and Scholarly.

 

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