LARC NEWS Posted: 10/15/2018 1:58:37 AM


             Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot outdueled one of the best fields ever assembled for the 64th running of the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship after breaking sharply and finishing powerfully from post 10 to come out top of a four-horse blanket finish that included All America Gold Cup winner Bodacious Eagle, Go Man Go Handicap winner Tarzanito, and surprising 33-1 longshot Katies Easy Moves at 440 yards on Sunday night.

Ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby, He Looks Hot was third at the start but moved to within a head of Katies Easy Moves at the halfway point of the race before hitting the wire first to collect his third win in four outings this year. His most recent victory came here at 550 yards when he defeated five rivals by daylight on September 22.

“We had to run at 550 I thought just to get him a prep race going into this,” Willoughby said. “I know it was a little unconventional to run this horse going 550, but I felt he could do it and do it comfortable. It worked out, luckily. He needed a race. He was going to be coming in off of works. I can’t beat the great caliber of horses that ran in here (without a prep). This was a fantastic field, any horse in this race could have won it. We drew great and Vinnie did a great job getting this horse out of the gate. I have to give a lot of credit to Juan Carlos Chavez, my assistance trainer, because he’s lived this horse, basically, since the horse was 2-years-old. He takes care of this horse all the time.”

The win earned the 6-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire a spot in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions for the third time in his outstanding career. Covering the 440 yards in a meet’s best :21.342, He Looks Hot added $62,500 in earnings with this effort to take his career bankroll to $1,177,019. He is the richest horse ever campaigned by Allred, who is the sport’s all-time leading owner, and is also only the second Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity winner to win the Los Alamitos Championship. The other one is champion Corona Kool, winner of the rich futurity in 1999 and of the Los Alamitos Championship in 2001. In addition to winning the 2014 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, He Looks Hot also won the 2016 Grade 1 Vessels Maturity and 2017 Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap. The Allred-bred is out of stakes winning mare Look Her Over, who is also the dam of Once Over, the winner of the Grade 1 The Championship at Sunland Park in 2017.

He Looks Hot’s accomplishment are impressive enough on their own, but they are on different level when one considers that he has undergone three colic surgeries during his racing career. The third surgery happened earlier this year, just days before he was set to run in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship final.     

“He had two stones,” Willoughby said. “It’s all connected from the first surgery because the rope (he swallowed in 2015, which led to his first bout with colic) had fragmented and just started building a stone. I don’t know how all that works, but that’s my understanding. Unfortunately we had to go back in (and operate) after the Winter Championship trials. He was doing fantastic three days before the final and two days before the final we had to go to surgery. You either open him up or you don’t. Horses usually don’t live after three colic surgeries much less run in Grade 1 races against the best horses in the country.”

He Looks Hot is living and running well. Sunday’s race was perhaps the best of his entire career and it came against one of the toughest fields a horse could face. The 10 horses in the race included the last three winners of the Champion of Champions, the winners of 25 Grade 1 races, the winners of $7,947,115 in combined gross earnings, and the winners of now 108 races. He Looks Hot has done plenty of winning of his own, picking nine victories during his 27 career starts. He has also finished in the top three a total of 18 times.  

            While He Looks Hot was recovering from his third colic surgery, winning rider Vinnie Bednar was healing from his back and neck injuries caused when he was unseated from his mount during pre-race warmups for a race at Los Alamitos on March 3. Bednar, who tied for first place in the Thoroughbred jockey standings at Los Alamitos last year, returned to the saddle on July 20 and has been one of the top Quarter Horse rider here since then. 

              “He’s come back and is doing great,” Willoughby said. “We were just starting (to work together) when he got hurt on a Thoroughbred. To have him come back and win this is just fantastic. I had been watching Vinnie for a while, but he’s exceeded my expectations. I knew that he’s great on Thoroughbreds and gets horses away from the gate really well. He’s getting Quarter Horses away (from the gate) as good as anybody I’ve seen in a long time. Like I’ve said before, I put him in a league of some really good riders. I think he’ll be one of the best jockeys in the country within a year.”

            In 2018, Bednar has 45 wins aboard Thoroughbreds at distances ranging from 870 yards to 4 ½ furlongs. He’s also won with 22 of his 108 Quarter Horse mounts.  

          “I have to thank Ed Allred and Scott Willoughby for giving me an opportunity to do this,” Bednar said. “They’ve blessed me with great horses and I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunities. I’ve always been a pretty decent gate rider so hopping into the Quarter Horses I had to get used to the speed a little bit, but to ride good horses for these guys, they’re the ones making me look good. I’m just trying to be in the present, be in the moment, just enjoy this for today, I’m stoked. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I got there but turning back it was the slowest moment of my life waiting for it to go official.”

            If not for his injuries, Bednar would be fighting for the lead in the current Thoroughbred jockey standings, but he’s not one to dwell on what could have been. 

            “If anything it was a blessing in disguise,” Bednar said of his injuries. “I had a good mental break and took some time off from the game. I was off for about 5 months or so. I’m grateful to be here. I have a good support team. I have my family, my girlfriend, Nora, and her mom, who is an acupuncturist. She does my back up and makes me feel great. Hopefully this is just beginning.”

            The Los Alamitos Championship is easily Bednar’s biggest victory in Quarter Horse racing and He Looks Hot is the best Quarter Horse he’s ever ridden.

“He’s just a tank,” Bednar said. “It’s crazy to have a horse like that underneath you. He breaks and just keeps going. He’s an honest horse. He gives you everything he’s got. Honestly, when I saw this race draw out and we had the 10 hole, I felt like all I had to do was get out, run my race, I don’t have to worry about anyone bothering me, we weren’t going to be in the gate too long. Everything just lined up. It was awesome.”

Johnny Trotter’s Bodacious Eagle ran an outstanding race from post nine to finish second in the Los Alamitos Championship for the second year in a row. Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Justin Joiner, Bodacious Eagle earned $21,250 for running second to take his career earnings to $989,286. He’s hit the board in 22 of 31 career starts.

A1A Racing LLC’s Tarzanito finished third for trainer Yanet Rodriguez and jockey Eddie Garcia. The Go Man Go winner was fifth at the start but made a strong late move and finished about a neck behind He Looks Hot for first. Tarzanito earned $12,500 to take his lifetime earnings to $359,683.

O-So Smart LLC’s Katies Easy Moves finished fourth with champion Hold Air Hostage running fifth. Heza Dasha Fire, the winner of the last two Los Alamitos Championships, finished in a dead-heat for sixth with Royaltys Authority. BH Lisas Boy, Mr Pyc To You, and Zoomin For Spuds completed the field. Mr Pyc To You, Zoomin For Spuds, and Heza Dasha Fire are the last three winners of the Champion of Champions, which will be held this year on Saturday, December 15.


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