LARC NEWS Posted: 7/6/2020 1:54:58 AM


            Ed Allred’s Chocolatito, a 4-year-old gelding with a tremendous closing kick, was fifth at the start of the Grade 1, $157,400 Vessels Maturity, but at that point he was only about ¾ lengths behind the early leader Jess Macho Corona in the 400-yard race on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

            For Chocolatito, being that close to the lead with so much race left provided him the perfect opportunity to display his outstanding finishing kick. The son of Favorite Cartel came through from there, as he finished powerfully from post number eight to defeat the talented Jess Macho Corona to win the Vessels Maturity by a half-length.

            Ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby, Chocolatito enjoyed his first Grade 1 stakes victory, a score that also netted him a provisional berth to the $600,000 Champion of Champions at 440 yards on December 12. Chocolatito joins Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship winner Bos Time Machine and Debbie Schauf Remington Park Invitational Championship winner Dexxter in the Champion of Champions field. Allred, Willoughby and Bednar teamed up last year to win the Champion of Champions with the eventual 2019 AQHA World Champion He Looks Hot.

            “I think Chocolatito will love 440 yards,” Willoughby said. “I wish they were all 440. He is a completely different horse this year. He’s had just a little trouble in the gate. He is nice and calm in the paddock. Last year he would come up a little hot and wound up. This year he has been perfect. If I can just get him to break consistently. He doesn’t have to be in front, he just needs to be consistent. He was always a great horse to deal with. He has a great personality. He got away decent tonight. He really finished like he can and ran a fantastic race.”      

            “This horse can outrun them all on a great day, even on a halfway decent day,” Bednar added. “His thing is just the gate. If we can get him out of the gate, he is hard to beat. He got away decent today and he showed what he can do. I saw Jess Macho Corona down on the inside. He had me by at least ¾ lengths. I got after Chocolatito a little bit left-handed and he really kicked it on for me. I could not be happier with the performance. He is such a good horse and he deserves it. He is always shined. He is really on the right track right now.”

            Bred by Dr. Steve Burns, Chocolatito picked up his third victory in four starts this season, while enjoying his second stakes win of the meet. His only of the year came in the Vessels Maturity trials when he finished second to Cole Man 47. The winner of the Grade 3 Kaweah Bar Handicap on May 2, Chocolatito also improve to eight wins from 16 career starts. His earnings of $66,108 in this race took his lifetime bankroll to $176,203.

             “I was thinking after he won his first couple of races that he had a shot at going undefeated,” Willoughby added. “Then, he got beat in the trials. As soon as you think (about going undefeated), that happens.”

            After racing only three times during his juvenile campaign, Chocolatito had a solid sophomore season. He won four of nine starts, earned over $76,000, won the Dillingham Handicap and ran second in the Grade 3 PCQHRA Breeders Derby.

            “This horse as a 2-year-old he shin bucked and we stopped on him,” Willoughby recalled. “We brought him and after the Golden State Million Futurity trials we gave him some time off. As a 3-year-old, he would (mess up) and get beat. We knew that he was fast.”

            Willoughby is looking forward to campaigning the California-bred star in many of the top races of 2020.

            “We’ll run him through the year,” he said. “If he needs some time off, we’ll stop and give him some time off and freshen him up. I do not know if we will run him in the Spencer Childers (California Breeders Championship Handicap on July 25) or not. We will see how he pulls up. It’s a great race to run in and Spencer was a great man. I’ve won the race before and I enjoy being a part of the race.”

            One of Willoughby’s victories in the Spencer Childers came with He Looks Hot, a horse that the trainer also saddled to victory in the Vessels Maturity in 2016. While winning the Vessels Maturity is one thing Chocolatito and He Looks Hot have in common, the two Graded 1 stakes winners are very different from a physical standpoint.

            “They are two completely different horses,” Willoughby said. “He Looks Hot was so big and powerful. This horse, Chocolatito, is well put together and is balanced, nice horse, but he’s not that huge, big Quarter Horse like He Looks Hot. (Chocolatito) is fantastic looking, but he is not that big horse. They don’t look anything alike, but they are both great horses. He Looks Hot got away bad a few times, but he also came running them down on the outside.”

            Ridden by Jairo Rangel for trainer Paul Jones, Jess Macho Corona earned $26,758 for his second place finish. Owned by Gary Nutt and Turner Farms, the Corona Cartel gelding has hit the board in 16 of 19 career starts. Now a winner of 638,163, Jess Macho Corona was also the runner-up in last year’s All American Derby and in the 2018 Golden State Million Futurity.

            Legacy Ranch’s Mister Appolitical had his five-race win streak snapped after finishing third in the Vessels Maturity. The gelding by Apollitical Jess broke sharply but was third throughout while earning $18,888 for his effort. Cole Man 47 finished fourth and was followed by Bail Czech, Get Away Car, Santander, Kissed By An Eagle and Jess Bet Me.



More/Less News...

More/Less News...

More/Less News...

More/Less News...

More/Less News...

CalRacing Promos