LARC NEWS Posted: 1/24/2020 12:28:12 PM


           The honors and accolades continue to flow for Ed Allred’s homebred He Looks Hot, as the now 8-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire out of the Check Him Out mare Look Her Over was named the 2019 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Horse of the Year at the annual awards gala on Thursday evening at Los Alamitos.

Co-hosted by Ed Burgart and Michael Wrona, the PCQHRA Awards celebrate the achievements of California’s Quarter Horse breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys and champion horses of the 2019 season.

On Thursday evening, the connection of He Looks Hot announced the outstanding champion is officially retired from racing. He Looks Hot was previously named the 2019 AQHA World Champion at an awards ceremony at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on January 15.  He’s the first horse to win the title of AQHA World Champion and PCQHRA Horse of the Year in same year since Heza Dasha Fire in 2015.  

“We’ve decided to retire He Looks Hot” trainer Scott Willoughby said. “We’ll turn him out and let him be a horse.”

“He’ll be in a pasture at his new home at Rolling A Ranch,” Allred said. “We take care of our horses. He can live to 35 and he’ll always have a home.”  

“He’s probably the only Champion of Champions horse that also won at 550 yards," Willoughby added. "I have to give a lot of credit to my team. This horse needed a lot of care and my assistant trainer Juan Carlos Chavez slept with him when he was sick. He was there with him all of the time. He hand walks the horse and if the horse blinked he would tell me.”  

He Looks Hot received California’s top racing honor after winning the 2019 Grade 1 Champion of Champions, the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap and the Moonist Handicap. He defeated a tremendous field in the Champion of Champions, a field that included three-time AQHA champion Flash And Roll, two-time AQHA champion Hotstepper, AQHA Supreme Racehorses BH Lisas Boy and Zoomin For Spuds, 2019 AQHA champion aged mare As And Js, 2018 PCQHRA Horse of the Year Jesstacartel, and Grade 1 winners Mi Amor Secreto and Tequila Sangria.

In 2019, He Looks Hot won five of 10 starts and $420,036. For his career, He Looks Hot has won 14 of 39 starts with earnings of $1,618,055. He is one of only four horses to win the Grade 1 Champion of Champions and Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. He was also named the PCQHRA aged gelding of the year.   

Cathy Monji, the president of Los Alamitos Race Course, was presented with the 2019 Frank Vessels, Sr. Memorial Award in recognition for her outstanding contributions to the sport of Quarter Horse racing. Cathy runs the day-to-day operation at Los Alamitos Race Course and is a long time Quarter Horse breeder and owner. She was part of “The Girls” partnership racing Old Habits, the 1999 Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby and Grade 1 All American Derby winner. She campaigned Dicey Secret, who was a three-time derby in 1995. As a broodmare, Dicey Secret would go on to produce 2006 All American Futurity winner No Secrets Here. Cathy remains involved in the breeding of Quarter Horses. Her racing operation has included Aubrey Ren ($42,610 and Sell Short ($40,317).

“I’m overwhelmed,” Monji said. “I love my job. I work with so many wonderful and dedicated people. Our administrative staff does so much and our food service team is magnificent. The people in this industry, we just have such a wonderful bond. We all love our horses.”

“I trust Cathy with everything in my life,” Allred said. “She’s a marvelous person.”

Allred, who led the nation with 77 Quarter Horse wins and was second nationally with $1,670,566 in earnings, was the PCQHRA owner of the year. In addition to He Looks Hot, he also campaigned Grade 3 Las Damas Handicap winner Tough To Figure plus stakes winners Time To Leave, Well Good, Nomadic, Just Be Real and Chocolatito. Other top runners included the Grade 1 stakes placed Circle City and Grade 1 finalist Transcend.   

The owner special recognition award went to Ron Hartley after campaigning Two Million winner Cartel Jess Rockin and stakes winner Chickititas Favorite. Dr. Steve Burns of Burns Ranch was named breeder of the year once again after leading the nation in earnings with $3,240,790. Horses that he bred included Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap winner Tequila Sangria, Grade 1 Golden State Futurity winner Runforyourlife and Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Pitbull. He’s also the co-breeder of three-time derby winner Powerful Favorite. Martha Wells won the breeder special achievement award after campaigning a strong stable of homebred headed by Red Hawk Cartel, who was named the champion 3-year-old colt based on his a solid campaign that included a second place finish in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby. She also bred graded futurity finalist Teller Cartel, stakes winner Yanque, and stakes runner Chicks Fayvorite.

Chris O’Dell, the AQHA champion trainer, was named PCQHRA trainer of the year after leading the meet with 76 Quarter Horse wins. O’Dell campaigning graded stakes winners Thermonuclear Energy, Runforyourlife, Powerful Favorite and Jest Famous. He’s only the fourth different person to be leading trainer at Los Alamitos since 1990.

“I’m very humbled by this award,” O’Dell said. “I never thought it would happen. It’s not easy. It probably took 50 to 60 people to get me here. I have to thank my great team. The owners, jockeys and so many other people that believed that we could get here. Kirk Goodfellow accepted the AQHA award on my behalf in Oklahoma. He’s always been an incredible motivational part of my life.”

            Scott Willoughby received the trainer special recognition award for his strong season that included top horses like the World Champion He Looks Hot, Grade 3 winner Tough To Figure, who was also named co-champion aged mare with Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Thermonuclear Energy, plus stakes winner Chocolatito, Well Good, Striver, Just Be Real and Time To Leave.   

            “I came to Los Alamitos for one summer and I never left,” Willoughby said. “I’m so fortunate to work for Dr. Allred and with an incredible team.”

            Jesus Rios Ayala was the jockey of the year after winning his third consecutive Quarter Horse riding title with 75 wins. Rios Ayala won graded stakes races aboard Zoomin For Spuds, Mr Appolitical, Chayito Cartel and Tequila Sangria. Vinnie Bednar, who piloted practically all of Willoughby’s top runners including He Looks Hot, won the   jockey special recognition award.

            Oscar Andrade Jr.  won the Val Tonks Award given to an up and coming Quarter Horse rider. He piloted BH Lisas Boy to victories in the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap. 

Los Alamitos starter Gary Brinson was presented the PCQHRA’s Sam Thompson Award, which honors an individual who displays leadership within the Los Alamitos racing community. Brinson is widely recognized for his tireless work in helping trainers with their 2-year-olds as they become comfortable in the starting gate.

“Don Matlock said something I never forgot,” Brinson said. “He said ‘Always be a horseman first and a starter second.’ I’d rather start one Champion of Champions than anything else. I’m so fortunate to have the starting gate crew that I have at Los Alamitos.”

Owned by Cesar Nunez, Pitbull was the 2-year-old colt of the year after a solid campaign highlighted by his victory in the Governor’s Cup Futurity.  The Favorite Cartel colt won three out of five starts in 2019.

Ron Hartley’s Cartel Jess Rockin was named AQHA champion 2-year-old filly and also the PCQHRA champion 2-year-old filly. She won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and also raced in the Governor’s Cup Futurity and Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity. She finished the year with a meet’s best $843,940 in earnings.

Rosenthal Ranch’s Powerful Favorite won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby and Governor’s Cup Derby on the way to the title of 3-year-old colt of the year. He finished the year with seven wins from eight starts.

“I’ve gotten the credit for picking this horse at the sale, but Chris (O’Dell) and my husband, Bob, wanted him,” Connie Rosenthal said. “I knew that if Bob waited to bid that we could lose him so I raised my hand. Next thing I know Chris tells me ‘You just bought a horse.’ Bob would be so proud of what this horse has become.”

“It’s the horses that earn these awards,” she added. “They should be here picking up the awards. (Jockey) Eduardo Nicasio, Chris O’Dell, they should be here picking up these awards.”

Scott Bryant’s Flash And Roll was the top 3-year-old filly after winning the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby. She’s the first horse to ever win the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, Golden State Million Futurity and Super Derby. She also competed in the Champion of Champions.  

Co-champion aged mares were Parsons Family’s Thermonuclear Energy, winner of the Grade 1 Charger Bar, and Allred’s Tough To Figure, a multiple stakes winner in 2019. A1A Racing LLC’s Tarzanito was named champion aged stallion for the second consecutive year. He finished second in the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and third in the Spencer Childers.

“Gary Brinson was so helpful working a lot with Tough To Figure,” Willoughby said. “She figured it out. She’ll be a broodmare now.”

“(Thermonuclear Energy) was a little unpredictable, but then things clicked,” O’Dell said. “She’s out of Terrific Energy and everything out of that mare just seems to run. We’ll retire her as well, but we are happy to have her babies coming up in the future.”

“We came so close to getting back to the Champion of Champions,” said Eddie Garcia, who rode Tarzanito. “We got bumped and it cost me. That’s okay. Tarzanito is a great horse.”

Dan Wilson’s Run Raging Rhino Run, the winner of the Wheatland Handicap and Barbra B Handicap, was named the distance horse of the year.

“My mom and dad raised this horse as an orphan,” Wilson said. “They go up every two to three hours to feed him when he was a baby. He means so much to all of us.”

Other equine awards included Paul Jones and Thompson Racing Inc.’ Ballast Point as the Most Improved Horse and Rosenthal Ranch’s Powerful Favorite as the Moonist Award for his season long success for a stakes or allowance horse. Larry Stark’s Jess A Cowboy was named the Intermountain Horse of the Year. The Arizona-bred gelding won the Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap and the John Ward Handicap.

  PCQHRA recognized Dr. Steve Burns’ Remember Me Rose with the James V.A. Carter Award for Outstanding Broodmare. The mare is the dam of multiple stakes winner Powerful Favorite and Grade 1 futurity winner Runforyourlife.

Owned by Burns Ranch, Paul Jones and Terry Thompson during his 2019 season, Favorite Cartel was presented with the Three Bards Award as the outstanding stallion. His major stakes winners in included all three winners of the million dollar futurities at Los Alamitos in Flokie, Cartel Jess Rockin, Runforyourlife plus Kindergarten winner Chayito Cartel, Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Pitbull and the outstanding Powerful Favorite.   

Ed Burgart and TVG both received PCQHRA Special Recognition Awards.

Awards for the top Thoroughbred horsemen were given to owner Ashley Garcia, trainer Angela Aquino and jockey Edgar Payeras.

“My mom, Betsy Mora, instilled the work ethic, getting up early in the morning and always been there for them,” Aquino said. “It’s a lifestyle that I love.”

For Payeras, this was his first Thoroughbred riding title.

The leading Quarter Horse horsemen in the Northern California Fairs were also recognized on the night. They are owner Ashley Garcia, trainer Angela Aquino and for the second year in a row jockey Hugo Herrera. Awards for leading money winning Cal-bred in 10 different divisions were also presented on the night. They are as follows:


Cal-Bred Breeder: Dr. Steve Burns & James Markum


            Cal-Bred Breeder: Dr. Steve Burns


            Cal-Bred Breeder: Dr. Steve Burns


            Cal-Bred Breeder: Reed Land & Cattle/Levings Racing


            Cal-Bred Breeder: Martha Wells


                        Cal-Bred Breeder: Dr. Steve Burns and James Markum


            Cal-Breeder: Dr. Steve Burns


            Cal-Breeder: Patricia Visscher



            Cal-Bred Breeder: Ed Allred


            Cal-Breeder: Parsons Family Partnership


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