EG High Desert Farms’ 22-1 longshot Eagles Policy spoiled champion Hotstepper’s 2019 debut after holding him off by a head to win the Grade 3, $25,000 Independence Day Handicap on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Jonathan Roman for trainer Jesus Nunez, Eagles Policy broke sharply from post number one, opened up a half-length lead at the halfway mark and kept Hotstepper at bay to record his third win in seven starts this year. The gelding by One Dashing Eagle covered the 300 yards in a sizzling :15.329. Winning for the fourth time in 21 starts, Eagles Policy earned $13,750 to take his career earnings to $51,036.
“He gave us his best race and I tried to give it my all to help and we got a nice result,” Roman said. “We liked his chances. He was a big price on the board, but horses don’t know if they’re longshots or favorites. The odds don’t matter in races like this.”
“The distance helped him,” Nunez added. “That was a nice distance for him. Probably in a little longer race he doesn’t hold on for the win, but at 300 yards he got it done at this distance. It’s gone well for us and EG High Desert Farms and hopefully it can continue.”
Nunez saddled the EG High Desert’s 10-1 longshot Bail Czech to an upset win in last week’s Vandy’s Flash Handicap. He’ll saddle Matilda Czech also for EG High Desert in Sunday’s Grade 1 Vessels Maturity. The only mare in the field, Matilda Czech figures to be a double digit play in the race, but one can’t count her out as Eagles Policy and Bail Czech have shown.
Bred by San Gregorio Racing Stables Inc., Eagles Policy was gelded after completing a winless 10-race sophomore campaign in 2018. His record stood at one win from 14 career starts.
“He didn’t behave in the gate and would get into trouble,” Enrique Gonzalez of EG High Desert Farms said. “He was always anxious in the gate. If he didn’t win start winning some money, he wasn’t going to get any mares either, so we decided to geld him. He ran a very good time tonight.”
Racing for the partnership of Hubbard, Southway, Cope and Willis, Hotstepper earned $5,625 for his runner-up effort in his first start of the year. The gelding by One Famous Eagle will have some bigger races coming up, particularly the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap on September 1 and the Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on October 13. Bred by Fulton Quien Sabe Ranches LP, Hotstepper was named the AQHA champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding last year after winning the Grade 1 All American Derby and Grade 1 Texas Classic Derby. A winner in six of 16 career starts, Hotstepper has lifetime earnings of $1,340,191.