LARC NEWS Posted: 9/24/2018 2:26:10 AM

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             Racing for the first time since November 19, 2017, EG High Desert Farms’ Jess Ravin shook off easily the cobwebs of inactivity with a sensational wire-to-wire daylight victory in the Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

            Reunited with leading rider Jesus Rios Ayala and trained by Jesus Nunez, Jess Ravin broke sharply from the outside post 10 and had a ¾ length lead early in the 400-yard race. She was a length ahead of her rivals at the midway point of the race and then cruised to the finish under confident handling to win by 1 ½ lengths. The 5-year-old mare by Corona Cartel earned a berth to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions to be held here on December 16 after winning the Mildred Vessels in a time of :19.52. The victory was also her seventh in a stakes race at Los Alamitos, making her the 47th Quarter Horse in the history of this track with seven stakes wins or more. Johnny Trotter’s One Sweet Racy finished second, while Oscar Andrade and Steve Burns’ Jess Mas ran third.

            Jess Ravin won three consecutive stakes races last spring when taking the Flare For Toby Handicap, Corona Kool Handicap, and Miss Princess Handicap. She would later finish third against males in the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity before running third against a great field of distaffers in the 2017 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap. She had also develop some issues.

            “She had a hoof problem last year,” said Enrique Gonzalez of EG High Desert Farms. “She ran 400 yards in :19.81 in this race last year, but the hoof was stinging her. She was starting to tail off. We ran her once more (in mid-November), but then we had to give her a rest. We took some embryos out of her. We bred her to my stallions and ended up with a couple of embryos by Hawkinson and a couple by Corona Czech. That was the first time we’ve bred her.”

            Jess Ravin returned to training in the summer and posted a couple of drills. Her last workout before her season debut was 350-yard gate drill in :17.80 on August 11. It set her up perfectly for the Mildred Vessels.

            “We gave her a total of about four or five good works,” said Jesus Nunez, who was saddling his first Grade 1 winner since Buccaneer Beach won the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in 2004. “She was training great and she’s run well fresh. Jesus Rios Ayala had always liked this mare. He had ridden her before, liked her and knew her well. I just hope things keep going well for all of us.”

            Gonzalez was cautiously confident about Jess Ravin’s chances in the Mildred Vessels.

            “I thought she had a good chance, but I can’t lie, my heart was trembling because this was her first race.  I was worried because she had not run in a while, plus we had taken embryos out of her. You never know how they’ll return after you take embryos out. We’ve been blessed with this victory. I’m so thankful. It was our turn tonight. She’ll face some tough horses in the Champion of Champions. She’ll face some powerful horses. We have faith and we’ll be ready to take on them. I enjoy the competition and always want to do well. There are some great horses that we’ll likely face. We’d love to see her shine in the Champion of Champions.”

Gonzalez, who annually ranks among California’s leading Quarter Horse owners, currently has about two dozen horses in training at Los Alamitos. And the future is bright for EG High Desert Farms.

“I have 53 young horses right now,” he added. “Most are by my young stallion Fast Prize Cartel. They look nice. I’m trying to improve my breeding stock. I’ve been working to improve the quality of my broodmares and the goal is to have better yearlings to have ready for the auctions each year. With (Grade 1 winner and AQHA champion) Walk thru Crystal, we have an 8-month old filly by One Famous Eagle and one by Apollitical Jess.  I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about Jess Ravin.”

Ayala, who has now ridden Jess Ravin to all seven of her stakes wins, knew that he was in for a great race shortly after the start of the Mildred Vessels.

“She was ready,” he said. “She did get tired at the end of the race, but she had been off for a long time. Fifty yards into the race I already felt that we were alone and one the lead. She was tired at the end, but she needed this race.”

Jess Ravin earned $62,500 for the win to take her career earnings to $244,253. She’s won 10 of 20 career starts.

  Ridden by Saul Ramirez, Jr. for trainer Chris O’Dell, One Sweet Racy earned $21,250 for running second to improve her lifetime bankroll to $324,423. The One Sweet Jess mare came into this race having won the AQHA Distaff California Challenge. She finished second to AQHA champion Hold Air Hostage in the All American Derby last year. Ridden by Jesus Canales for trainer Elena Andrade, Jess Mas finished third. She earned $12,500 and has now banked $201,417. She’s competed in 13 stakes races in her career and has hit the board in six of those events. Kiddy Up Cowgirl ran fourth and was followed by Tough to Figure, Thermonuclear Energy, Eliticy, Strawfinders Jessee, Hootin For Hotlips, and Jess Hawk.

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