LARC NEWS Posted: 11/12/2018 3:59:22 AM

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          Following a completely dominant performance in the Grade 1, $925,100 Los Alamitos Super Derby, Lesley Joyner’s homebred Jesstacartel, whose dam earned only $84 from two starts, while his granddam never even raced once, will now be one of the favorites to win the prestigious Champion of Champions on December 15 following his 1 ¼ length victory on Sunday night. 

            Breaking sharply from post six with Cruz Mendez aboard, the Mark Skeen-trainee flew away in the second half of the race to win the 400-yard Super Derby in a time of :19.578, giving champion KVN Corona his first loss in 10 starts at Los Alamitos. The victory earned the Utah-bred by One Sweet Jess and out of the Stoli mare Stolmeacartel a provisional starting berth to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions where the 440-yard distance figures to suit his running style perfectly.   

“He doesn’t break super-fast, but tonight he broke incredibly,” Joyner said. “The most exciting part was the middle of the race when started pulling away.”

            “He’s been just a great horse to watch,” said Lesley’s husband, Wally Joyner, a former MLB All-Star. “Mark and Holly Skeen have done an incredible job. Nobody liked him early on. He had a little trouble his first race. He figured it out and has been really good ever since. I think he likes his job.”

            Jesstacartel has now won two graded derbies at Los Alamitos in 2018, adding this impressive score to his ½ length win in the Grade 2 Golden State Derby on August 19. He was supplemented to the Super Derby for $30,000 and has now earned $388,542 for winning the race. His career tally now stands at $594,250. He’s also proof that a graded stakes winner can emerge when a breeder or owner least expects it.    

            “I had my first racehorse in 1998,” Lesley Joyner said. “Wally went to the playoffs that year (with the San Diego Padres). We were kind of on a high. Keith and Fawna Knight, my best friends, asked me if I wanted to go to a horse sale. We came here to the Los Alamitos Equine Sale and I bought a Thoroughbred. I wanted her as a jumper. The next year I came back and bought Memories To Keep, which was by Chicks Beduino. He ended up being an amazing runner (as a five time winner and top three finisher in 14 of 19 career starts). We were really excited and we thought every horse was a winner. We had one or two horses max per year, and they don’t win as often as you plan it. I purchased Jesstacartel’s grandmother, Buena Cartel, and she didn’t race. She had nice pedigree, but was very small. We bred her and after her baby Stolmeacartel didn’t race (much), we didn’t think Jesstacartel would race either. He’s been an amazing surprise.  Now we know that it doesn’t matter what you pay or don’t pay because you just never know in racing.”

            It took a lot of patience and hard work from Skeen and his team to tap into Jesstacartel’s racing ability.

“When he was first born, he didn’t want you to touch him,” said Skeen’s wife and assistant trainer, Holly Skeen. “At first, when we would to try to handle him, he would just scream. He didn’t want anyone touching him. We just started working with him a lot. He eventually came around, but he was not a people horse at the beginning. Now he loves you. He’s changed a lot. His mom was kind of funny as well. She was hard to handle. I’m so glad he got better about people, otherwise everything would have been a fight with him. He figured out what he liked to do.

“Mark took his time with him,” she added. “I remember Mark telling the gallop people to take their time with him. He told them that we had no deadlines and just get on him and walk him around. Mark would say, ‘you don’t even have to gallop him at first, just get him to like his job.’ We didn’t have the pressures of getting him ready for an early futurity. Mark would say, ‘I don’t even care if he’s not ready until the fall, just take your time. He’ll tell us when he’s ready.’ We didn’t have to rush him and I think that was the best thing.

Jesstacartel arrived at Los Alamitos last year in time to make his 2-year-old debut, a fifth place finish on July 21.   

“The horse had this long jump and a really nice stride,” Holly Skeen added. “You could tell that he had ability, but he was just really gangly at first. Mark saw that he had some talent and that he was progressing. He was just immature. He’s always been big. He was like a kindergartener in a fifth grader’s body. A lot of horses that are that big get in their own way and for a big horse he’s very athletic. He had to learn how to use his body. He has the whole package now.”

            That debut race represents the only time Jesstacartel has finished out of the money in a race. Since then, he’s won seven of nine starts and finished second in his two other starts, both when breaking from the outside post, first in the Vandy’s Flash Handicap on July 1 and then in his Super Derby trial last month. 

“He doesn’t like racing from the outside post,” Mark Skeen said. “I don’t know what it is, but he just doesn’t do well from there. He breaks out and he’s just not the same. That’s what happened to him in both the Vandy’s Flash and in his Super Derby trial. He really liked racing from post six tonight.”

Skeen, who saddled Worth Doing to victory in the 2016 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, is looking forward to having his first starter in the Champion of Champions.              

“It’s a dream for me,” he said. “I remember coming as a kid to gallop horses and always dreaming of being a part of the Champion of Champions. I was fortunate enough to be around Charger Bar in her heyday. Back then, there were no million dollar futurities like now, so the biggest race by far was the Champion of Champions. It’s still one of the biggest races in the nation. It’s amazing to have a horse in there.”

            If Jesstacartel had not panned out on the racetrack like he has, perhaps that would have ended the Joyners interest in racing. That has now changed thanks to the Utah-bred. 

“His mother was bred to One Sweet Jess once again,” Lesley Joyner said. “He’ll have a full sibling next year. The embryo is being carried by a recipient mare. The chances of the sibling being great are probably little, but who knows? It’s just unbelievable right now. We are just enjoying this. We are just thrilled.”

Bred by McColee Land & Livestock Llc and owned by Keith Nellesen, KVN Corona earned $157,267 for his solid runner-up effort on Sunday night. The Corona Cartel colt, who defeated third place finisher A Political Lady by a head, took his career bankroll to $868,077. The Utah-bred has won 10 of 13 career starts. Ramon Sanchez piloted him for trainer Paul Jones.

Racing from post number one, Parsons Ranch’s A Political Lady earned $110,012 for her third place finish. Like Jesstacartel, A Political Lady was supplemented to this race. The California-bred filly has made $376,193 in her career. Matilda Czech finished fourth and was followed by Black Fryday, Call Me Cole, Moonie Blues, Sumokinintheboysroom, Eyes The Favorite, and Jess My Kiss.

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        Jesstacartel’s granddam, the Corona Cartel mare Buena Cartel, is from a female family that traces back to La Ree Bar, a 1962 mare sired by Rocket Bar. The Wayne Charlton-bred mare won eight of 11 starts in her career and was the winner of the Intermountain Futurity held during the Elko Fair in Nevada in 1964.

         After her racing career, Charlton bred La Ree Bar to the stallion Tiny Charger to great success. The cross produce the legendary Utah-bred mare Charger Bar, the winner of the 1973 Champion of Champions, and also her full sister named Pacific Charger, who was another Utah-bred.

          Pacific Charger, a five-time winner of over $8,000, was the dam of the Charlton-bred Easy Jet mare Charger Easy, who would produce the Charlton-bred Special Effort mare Specialista, who would produce the Ed Allred-bred Pritzi Dash mare Marmeta, who would produce the Paul Jones-bred Corona Cartel mare Buena Cartel, who Lesley Joyner would buy at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale in 1998. Twenty-years later, Joyner celebrated a victory in the Los Alamitos Super Derby.    

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