LARC NEWS Posted: 3/29/2018 5:47:31 PM


           Keith Nellesen’s KVN Corona will look to keep his perfect record intact when he goes after his eighth win in as many starts in the Grade 3, $235,200 El Primero Del Ano Derby on Saturday at Los Alamitos. Post time for the 400-yard El Primero, which is scheduled as the eighth race on the card, is 9:16 p.m. First post for the eight-race program is 6 p.m.

            KVN Corona won the Ed Burke Million Futurity and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity last year on the way to earning the title of AQHA and PCQHRA champion 2-year-old colt. He’s posted some scintillating wins in the process, outdueling the two-time AQHA champion J Fire Up by a head in the Ed Burke Million and also winning his PCQHRA Breeders Futurity trial by an impressive 2 ¼ lengths. His last three wins have been more closely contested. He rallied from third to win the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity on October 7. He followed it by winning his trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity by a nose to earn his sixth career win on November 26. In his most recent outing, he again won by a nose, this time in his trial to the El Primero Del Ano Derby on March 11 to improve his sparkling record to a perfect seven for seven. The Utah-bred colt by Corona Cartel will now look to deliver another big performance with the hope of making it a great eight for eight when he starts from post number four in Saturday’s El Primero. Leading Quarter Horse pilot Jesus Rios Ayala will be aboard the McColee Land & Livestock LLC-bred sprinter.

            “He’s been such a good horse,” trainer Paul Jones said. “He just gets it done. He needed that last race in the El Primero trials. We gave him a break and he had been off for a little bit. Jesus Rios Ayala had never ridden the horse either. It was a good race for him. He won it and almost tied for the fastest qualifying time. I think he’s ready to improve.”

            The comment from KVN Corona’s past performance in the El Primero reads “bumped, lugged in, shied wire”. Jones believes the last part of the comment – “shied wire” – was just   

            “(KVN Corona) was ducking in and Ayala took a hold of him. He didn’t want to risk an inquiry. Ayala did not know the horse that well at the time, but that will no longer be the case now. Everything should be good. I really like the way he’s coming into this race. He really needed that last race. The horse is great.”

            KVN Corona has earned $580,750 so far in his career. He’s also won the heart of the Nellesen family.

            “I don’t know how often you get a chance to have a horse like him,” Nellesen said. “He’s a special horse. Not only is he as good as he is, but we raised him and he’s the last colt out of Executive Looks. He’s a special horse.”

            KVN Corona is also named in honor of New England Patriots star linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who is a dear and close friend of the Nellesen family.

            As good as KVN Corona has been throughout his career, one of the keys to the El Primero Del Ano will be the ability of Yanque to leave cleanly out of the gate. Owned by  Martha Wells and trained by Rafael Orozco, Yanque flew right from the start in his El Primero trial and went on to post the fastest qualifying time of :19.70,  6/100ths of a second faster than KVNCorona. 

In his two previous starts, Yanque broke slow before turning on the rockets to make huge moves, including going from 10th to second place in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby. Cruz Mendez will ride the Favorite Cartel gelding from post number five. He’ll be just outside of KVN Corona in this race. For Wells, the owner is hoping that Yanque becomes her next big runner. She’s own the likes of stakes winners Chicks First Policy, Sign Of Lanty, New Look, and Forrest Fire.

            “I’m just excited that we have a horse with that much kick at the end of it,” Wells said of Yanque. “He’s a happy horse in training. He’s a Favorite Cartel and that’s excellent top side for any mare. I’m excited about Yanque. He’s pretty sound and I think I’m going to have an older horse that can run for a couple of more years.”

            Fortuna Properties, Inc.’s Ditto Head enters the final as the third fastest qualifier with a time of :19.71 after dueling with KVN Corona in the trials. Cesar Gomez, who was killed in a plane crash on Monday, was aboard Ditto Head on trial night. It’ll be Eulices Gomez (no relation to Cesar), who’ll pilot the Foose gelding for trainer Mike Casselman on Saturday. The talented Ditto Head was the fastest qualifier to the Winter Derby earlier this year and ran in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

            Ron Hartley’s The Revenant is another runner to watch in the El Primero Del Ano.  Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer John Cooper, The Revenant won his trial to this race on March 11, posting a ¾ length win in a time of :19.809. The Revenant ran in three futurities last year and finished third in both the Governor’s Cup Futurity and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. “We gave this horse a break and he really enjoyed it,” Cooper said.

            The El Primero Del Ano Derby field from the rail out is as follows: Eagles Policy, The Revenan, Rockin Asteroid, KVN Corona, Yanque, One More Cigarr, Eyes The Favorite, Ditto Head, King Of Appeals MV, and Black Fryday.




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