LARC NEWS Posted: 6/17/2019 4:20:36 AM

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          In a battle of Vessels Maturity winners, Ed Allred’s He Looks Hot (photo) outdueled Bill Hoburg’s BH Lisas Boy, while also posting the fastest qualifying time in the third of three trials to this year’s Grade 1, $155,100 Vessels Maturity Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby, the 7-year-old millionaire He Looks Hot, who won the 2016 Vessels Maturity, was terrific in leading the 400-yard trial from start to finish on the way to a neck victory over 2017 Vessels Maturity winner BH Lisas Boy. He Looks Hot crossed the wire in the fastest time of the night of :19.569. He was flying late, as his time of the final 220 yards was an excellent clocking of :09.37. The Hoburg-bred and trained BH Lisas Boy, who was piloted by teenager Oscar Andrade, Jr., finished with the second fastest time of :19.599, setting up a great rematch in Vessels final on Sunday, July 7.  

The complete list of qualifiers to the Vessels final is as follows: He Looks Hot (:19.569), BH Lisas Boy (:19.599), Tarzanito (:19.663), Katies Easy Moves (:19.665), Jesstacartel (:19.706), Eyes The Favorite (:19.752), Da One Two Special (:19.764), Matilda Czech (:19.842), CM Boom Shakalaka (:19.888), Zoomin For Spuds (:19.896). The winner of the Vessels Maturity will earn a provisional berth to this year’s Grade 1 Champion of Champions at 440 yards.

            He Looks Hot continues to amaze. He has now won 12 of 32 career starts with nearly every one of his outings coming against stakes caliber rivals. He won the 2014 Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and Grade 1 Vessels Maturity two years later in 2016. With Bednar in the irons, He Looks Hot won the 2018 running of the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. He came into this trial after winning the Moonist Handicap on March 29. He Looks Hot has also returned to the track following major surgery on three separate occasions, including one that kept him out of action for most of the first six months of 2018. Now healthy and razor sharp, the son of Walk Thru Fire earned $4,400 for this win to take his career earnings to $1,237,073.    

“He’s run down through there pretty good several times in his career with (final fractional) times of :09.35 to :09.37,” Willoughby said. “That’s how he finishes sometimes. He’s just a great horse. We were so far off a race and I didn’t know if we needed this race badly. We worked him the other day and he worked great (:18 flat on June 2). It was a nice, easy work for him. He’s just an amazing horse. He’s just something. He does it against the greatest horses in the country. BH Lisas Boy ran a fantastic race. He’s coming off without a race. He needed this race. It’s going to be a good final. Hopefully we can hook up and have a good trip down through there. Nineteen of the toughest horses in the country and we were lucky enough to run down through there really well and post a good race. Vinnie did a great job.”

  “I knew we were moving and we definitely broke on top,” Bednar added. “I knew those boys had a tall order to fill. Scott had him right. I just had to hang on. The horse did the rest.”

            Bednar won the Val Tonks Award presented to the top up and coming Quarter Horse rider at Los Alamitos in 2018. BH Lisas Boy was ridden by a young pilot who could one day win the Val Tonks Award as well in young Oscar Andrade Jr.  This was the young rider’s first time aboard the multiple Grade 1 winner BH Lisas Boy.     

            “Definitely,” said Bednar when asked if he could relate to Andrade Jr. “That was me last year with it being my first year of really riding some good horses. The kid is doing a helluva job. He rides real clean. He gets out of the horses way. He has a bright future.”

Ridden by Eddie Garcia for A1A Racing LLC, Tarzanito won the second Vessels trial by a ½ length over Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Winter Championship runner-up Eyes The Favorite. It was Tarzanito’s first win since taking the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap on September 2. That victory was key in the son of Favorite Cartel being named the 2018 AQHA champion aged stallion.

“We are proud of that horse,” said Dr. George Fallieras of A1A Racing. “We have so much confidence in him. Eddie always does a good job with him. We feel that if he can get a clean break –that’s his Achilles’ Heel - then we have a chance.  If he can get a clean break, he can run with anyone. We considered retiring him (at the end of the 2018 season). We are very proud of him. In the Champion of Champions, he had a terrible trip out of the gate. He’s not too heavily raced. He’s in great shape. We had him looked over by the vets and he’s completely sound. The horse felt good so we said ‘Why not? Why not let him run a little bit more?’ He’ll tell us (when he’s ready for retirement). Maybe it’s one race more, maybe it’s two more, we’ll listen to the horse and he’ll tell us when it’s time. As long as he’s feeling good and looking good we’ll keep running him.”

Yanet Rodriguez trains the Patricia Visscher-bred Tarzanito.

In a trial that included 2018 Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Jesstacartel and 2018 Vessels Maturity winner Zoomin For Spuds, it was the 4-year-old Jesstacartel who came out on top. With Cruz Mendez up for trainer Mark Skeen, the son of One Sweet Jess covered the distance in :19.706, while recording his eighth career victory in 13 starts. He entered this race after running sixth in a trial to the Brad McKinzie Winter Championship on January 20, his first out of the money finish in more than two years.

“He had four months off so we all had four months to think about (his last race) and wonder,” owner Lesley Joyner said. “We didn’t know. With him coming back, we are so excited to see him run like that. He broke well and he ran great the whole way. It was a relief to see him come back and run like that.”

Accompanying Joyner in the winner’s circle was her husband, Wally, the longtime Major League Baseball star, as well as the Knight and Skeen families.      

“It’s Wally’s birthday today,” Lesley said. “This is a nice present. We are looking forward to the final. Hopefully (Jesstacartel) can run just as well. Hopefully we can stand here (in the winner’s circle) again in a few weeks.”   

EG High Desert Farms’ Matilda Czech was a solid second to advance to the final out of this trial. Jim Walker’s Zoomin For Spuds, the winner of the Brad McKinzie Winter Championship and 2016 Champion of Champions, also qualified and will look to defend his Vessels Maturity title on July 7. He’s finished in the top three in 33 of 38 career starts.

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