LARC NEWS Posted: 12/16/2018 5:23:51 AM

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                 Over a decade ago, 11 years to be exact, Johnny and Jana Trotter celebrated in partnership with Burnett Ranches LLC their victory with One Famous Eagle in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

“I told Jana when One Famous Eagle won the Two Million, ‘Jana, you better enjoy this because we might never get to do this again.’ ” Johnny Trotter said. “She said, (no way), we’ll do this with one of his sons someday.”  

Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Justin Joiner, Bodacious Eagle proved Jana right, as the 6-year-old gelding by One Famous Eagle, won the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions by a head over Lesley Joyner’s Jesstacartel in one of the most exciting runnings in the 46-year history of the most prestigious race for Quarter Horses in the nation. Bred by La Feliz Montana Ranch LLC, Bodacious Eagle led from start to finish and held off the steady charge of Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Jesstacartel and a big late run by third place finisher BH Lisas Boy while covering the 440 yards in :21.4572. The victory was Bodacious Eagle’s fourth Grade 1 victory of his career and his eighth overall stakes win. The top three finishers were followed by Zoomin For Spuds, LD Is Back, He Looks Hot, Heza Dasha Fire, Yanque, Tarzanito and Jess Ravin.

Leaving the gate from post number nine as the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, Bodacious Eagle posted his 14th win in 33 starts and his $300,000 in earnings pushed his career bankroll over the one million dollar mark to $1,297,536. Bodacious Eagle has finished in the top four in 29 of his career starts.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever owned,” said Trotter, a past AQHA President and one of the owners of Ruidoso Downs. “I bought him as an embryo and I raised him. I liked him since the first day I saw him. He’s had some issues along the way that kept him from winning when he needed the win, but I couldn’t be prouder than him. I couldn’t be prouder of Justin (Joiner) and I couldn’t be prouder of Cody (Jensen). You can’t say enough about a horse like him. He’s as sound as new money. He just keeps doing it. He gives it his all every time.”

Bodacious Eagle has been outstanding during 2018 Los Alamitos campaign. After winning the Grade 1 All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs, the Oklahoma-bred gelding arrived at Los Alamitos to compete in the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. Bodacious Eagle finished second to He Looks Hot in that race before winning the first of two divisions to the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials. The win earned him a spot in the Champion of Champions field.

“I was leery with the way he had to qualify, you know, not having enough time off,” Trotter said. “But he benefited from that last race. He just got stronger. He’s an amazing animal. He’s a great horse. I’ve owned some really, really good horses. I’ve never had a horse like him. He’s made 33 starts and has (finished in the top four) in 29 of them. He’s an awesome individual. He’s been my favorite since he was a baby. He’s just been extraordinary. Everything he did, everything you’d ask him to do. When we halter broke him, he just did it. He was good, he was good all the time.

“He looked good right from the start to me (in the Champion of Champions). I thought if he could finish, he would have this race after breaking like he did. I’ve kept thinking that this next race would be his last one, but we’ll let him run as long as he wants to run. Eventually, we’d like to do performance halter with him, maybe make a world champion out of him that way. Obviously we rope on everything we own. Hopefully someday we’re probably going to rope on him. I plan on it. He’s just a good horse.”

Trotter has enjoyed some major victories at Los Alamitos over the years. In addition to One Famous Eagle, who won a total of three Grade 1 stakes at Los Alamitos, Trotter has also enjoyed Grade 1 wins with Miss Racy Jess and most recently with One Sweet Racy.    

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Dr. Ed Allred and the stand he’s taken. These horses running clean out here and what it means for a horse like this horse (Bodacious Eagle) to perform like he performed and know that he’s on nothing but oats and hay. We’ve got Dr. Allred to tip my hats to and I appreciate it.”

For Cody Jensen, widely considered one of the toughest riders in Quarter Horse racing, the Champion of Champions victory was a special one.     

“This one is pretty big,” said the two-time AQHA champion jockey. “I’ve been coveting this race for a long time. It’s kind of like the last real bucket list race that I’ve been wanting to scratch off. I’ve always said that I could walk away very happy with my career, but a Champion of Champions (win) wouldn’t hurt. It meant a lot to get it done tonight. I’ve had some very good horses in this race, from Catchmeinyourdreams a couple of time to Jess You And I. I had four that qualified to the Champion of Champions one year and (m mount) No Secrets Here had to be scratched the morning of the race. I got to watch my other three run. I had some good shots to win this and things just didn’t quite flow my way on that day. I had horses that I really felt were the best horses in that race and didn’t get it done. To get it done with a horse like Bodacious Eagle against this type of field, it’s pretty incredible.

“I’ve been through my share of ups and downs in this game, probably more than my share,” Jensen added. “But riding good horses like this and finding good babies and bringing them along, there’s always something to keep you going. Whenever you feel like this is about the end, a horse like this steps into your life and kind of blows a little vigor back into your step. This year has been pretty rough. I’ve missed more than half of the year due to injuries and rode less than 100 horses. To get to ride horses like him and Hotstepper, I’ve been pretty blessed.”

Jensen began riding Bodacious Eagle five races ago and all they’ve done is finish first or second in those race.

“We learned about him real quick,” Jensen recalled. “He had a bad tendency to false fire. We learned that you could never let him see the doors. We always kept his head tipped off just a little bit. He stays a lot more relaxed in there that way. He’s got one eye looking at the gates and he’s always broken real quick that way.”  

            Since arriving shortly after Labor Day weekend, Justin Joiner has been on a roll. In addition to Bodacious Eagle, the trainer also won the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity with the filly Flash And Roll, who’ll be one of the favorites in Sunday’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Joiner has always responded candor whenever asked about Bodacious Eagle or Flash And Roll.

“When you train for people like the Trotters, they’re very understanding people,” Joiner said. “They’re horsemen. Mr. Trotter is a cattleman. He’s just a cowboy in general. He’s straightforward, which I love that. You can tell him that everything is great or you can tell him if you have a problem with a horse and he’s very understanding. As far as my dad if concerned. He’s always been there. He kind of turned this loose for me over here. He never really got involved, but he’s always there if I have a question or a concern, or just to talk to him. I’ve been in his program for the last 18 years or so. I’ve learned so much, so much he doesn’t even know about just by watching him. When you have a dad and even a brother - my brother, Cody, was very successful out here - when you have people like that around you, you are bound to be successful if you put a little effort into it.

“The horse came out here from Ruidoso coming off of a good race,” Joiner added. “He just continued to run well and just improving to this point. He’s just improved every race enough to win by a little bit. I’m one of those guys that really focuses on the next race. With this horse I was focusing on the Invitational.. We ran second in the Invitational by a (head) so we got the horse ready for the trials. The horse came out of the Invitational wonderful. After a few days that horse acted like he had not even run. I took him back to the racetrack to give him something to do. We came back in the trials and the horse broke sharp and got out in front. The trials are at 400 yards. That’s his distance. The horse can run 440, but 400 is prime beef for him. In the Champion of Champions. I felt that if we could get as good a break as in the trials or maybe a little better that he could get a little distance on those horses. Cody is such a good finisher, he’s one of the best finishing riders that I’ve ever seen, and whether that horse carried him in that last 40 yards or he carried that horse the last 40 yards I really don’t care.”

Joiner also took time to express his appreciation for his wife, Lene’, and  daughter, Kaylee.

“I’ve probably put my family through heck,” he said. “ Kaylee is 14 and she’s playing basketball, volleyball and I’m missing some of that, but they’re very understanding. My wife, Lene’, she’s been very supportive. We talk all the time on the phone. She’s in nursing school so she’s also busy girl. I know they want me home, but they know what we are trying to do out here and this is the way we make our living.”

And it was a job well done for all the connections of Bodacious Eagle.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez for trainer Mark Skeen, Jesstacartel earned $96,000 for running second to take his career earnings to $625,463. 

“I went into it feeling that just the fact that we were (in the Champion of Champions) was shocking,” owner Lesley Joyner said. “It’s been so much fun. I really thought he was going to win the race. He’s young so hopefully we’ll be back next year and the year after. We are so proud of him. He’s only had 11 career starts so hopefully he’ll come back. I know he’s never run that hard before. That was such a tough race for him. It’s hard because if he had just been reaching out at the wire... I’m still so proud of him, but there’s another part of me that just goes, ‘but he was almost there.’ He has one more race, the Winter Championship, and then he’ll get a nice vacation. He’ll go back to St. George, Utah for a while. It’s been so fun."

Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer Bill Hoburg’s BH Lisas Boy earned $60,000 for running third to take his career earnings to $757,662. Jim Walker’s Zoomin For Spus added $42,000 to his bankroll for running fourth. He’s now made $709,566.

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