LARC NEWS Posted: 4/8/2018 1:30:26 AM

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          C.K. and Laurel Allen’s homebred Strawfinders Jessee outdueled EG High Desert Farms’ Jess Hawk by a nose in the $18,000 Mini Rock Handicap, but the two aged mares put on an exciting show as they battled gamely throughout in the 350-yard race on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, Strawfinders Jessee took the early lead after breaking sharply from post number four. At the halfway mark, it was Jess Hawk that took the lead in a race that featured six aged mares. Trained by John Cooper, Strawfinders Jessee came back to retake the lead and this time she held on by a whisker to win her second stakes race of the year. The One Sweet Jess mare won the Denim N Diamonds Handicap back on February 17 and she also finished third in the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap on January 7.

“She’s coming to herself with age,” Cooper said. “She’s gotten better with age. She looks like she really wants to run farther. That’s as good as I’ve seen her leave the starting gate.”

Strawfinders Jessee covered the distance in :17.440, which is one of the fastest 350-yard clockings of the meet. The 5-year-old mare by One Sweet Jess earned $9,900 for the win to take her career earnings to $118,267. This is her eighth win in 25 starts and her fourth win since November 4.

“We’re so fortunate to have her,” C.K. Allen said. “And we’re fortunate to have John Cooper as our trainer. We’re so thankful for both. It’s been a fun season.”

Strawfinders Jessee, who came into this race having finished fourth to Designs By Dynasty in the Terrific Energy Handicap on March 3, should continue to be one of the top older mares at Los Alamitos in 2018. Her next start could come in the Miss Princess Handicap on May 13 and then there’s the Matron Stakes for California-breds on July 28.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Jesus Nunez, Jess Hawk earned $4,050 for running second in the Mini Rock. The daughter of One Sweet Jess also finished second in the Terrific Energy in her last start. She was third when facing top males by BH Lisas Boy and Zoomin For Spuds in the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 11.   

Designs By Dynasty, the 6-5 favorite in this race, was fractious before the start and then was fifth right after the break. The FDD Dynasty mare ran gamely from there, but had to settle with a third place finish in the Mini Rock. In the Terrific Energy, Designs By Dynasty posted the meet’s fastest 350-yard time of :17.40.

Jess Hawk and Designs By Dynasty could both see action in the aforementioned Miss Princess Handicap.

Hootin For Hotlips, Zendaya, and Tough To Figure completed the field.

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