LARC NEWS Posted: 7/26/2020 2:04:01 AM


             The richest race on opening night of California Breeders Champions Weekend at Los Alamitos ended up being a family affair, as M & G Farms, Inc’s Constituent made his last stride count to narrowly defeat his younger half-brother Squid Word by a nostril in the Restricted Grade 1, $322,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

            Five horses hit the wire within a half-length of each other in the 350-yard Governor’s Cup, but a second look showed that the battle for first place really came down to the mid-January foal Constituent and the early March foal Squid Word, both carrying the silks of trainer Valentin Zamudio.

            Bella Valenzuela’s Opt Out was the early leader in the race with Constituent, ridden by Juan Pablo Leon, settling right behind the leader in the second place, while Cesar Nunez’s Squid Word following in third place with Ruben Lozano in the irons. After trailing most of the way, Constituent made his winning move in the final 100 yards, grappling the lead away from the mercurial Opt Out and also holding off the late surge from his sibling. Opt Out, who was piloted by Cruz Mendez, finished a neck behind Squid Word for third place, while Jeff and Michelle Cravens’ Favorite Colossus and Kim and Les Sweeting’s BF Outfoosed dead-heated for fourth place after crossing the wire a head behind Opt Out.  

            All in all, it was a big win for the Hawkinson broodmare Tahma Hawk after her sons finished 1-2 in the Governor’s Cup. Over the years, Tahma Hawk has produced a lot of accomplished runners including Grade 1 All American Futurity finalist Crooked Path, Grade 3 Valley Junction Futurity winner Oldsmobile Hill, Freshman Stakes winner Stel Hawk and graded stakes finalist Ray Donovan and Sacred Nation.

            Meanwhile, Zamudio collected his second victory in a row in the Governor’s Cup after saddling Nunez’s Pitbull to victory over a field that included his full-brother Lebowski.

            “I saddled those brothers last year as well,” Zamudio said. “To finish first and second this year with another set of a brothers is a huge thrill. I cannot describe how exciting this is for me. It is the result of hard work by a lot of people. Constituent ran a strong race in the trial. He drifted a bit, but he got the win. He has big, big heart. He showed it again tonight.

            “I am excited for the owners,” Zamudio added. “I started training for them this year. I think this is a big win for them. Mr. Nunez almost won this race for a second time. Constituent is a very fast horse, but Mr. Nunez’s horse, Squid Word, was flying at the end. It was a good race for both.”

            Purchased for $27,000 at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale, Constituent is a colt by Seperate Interest, who has now saddled major futurity winners at Los Alamitos each of the past two years. In fact, out of the last nine graded futurities at the Orange County oval, seven have been won by a son or daughter of Favorite Cartel, while Seperate Interest has sired the other two graded futurity winners. In addition to Constituent, Seperate Interest is the sire of Sass Go Blue, the winner of last year’s Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Squid Word, who remains a maiden through his first four career starts, is a colt by Favorite Cartel purchased for $72,000 at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. Dr. Steve Burns, the AQHA champion breeder last year, bred the top three finishers in this year’s Governor’s Cup Futurity in  Constituent, Squid Word and Opt Out. Like Constituent and Squid Word, Opt Out is also a graduate of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale after being purchased there for $43,000 from the Dr. Burns’ consignment.

               For winning rider, Juan Pablo Leon, he piloted 2019 AQHA champion 2-year-old filly Cartel Jess Rockin to victory in last year’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.  

            “Constituent is very good out of the gate,” Leon said. “He left with the field and stayed right there. He was there until the end. He stayed there, stayed there and stayed there until taking the lead at the very end. I thought we were right there the entire way. I feel blessed to have this win and proud to win this race for the people in my hometown of Sonora, Mexico.”

            Constituent earned $132,300 for the win. He also improved to three wins in four starts. He’s eligible to the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, Golden State Million Futurity and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Squid Word earned $53,550 for finishing second, while the Jose Flores-trained Opt Out pocketed $37,800. Favorite Colossus and BF Outfoosed each earned $20,475. The top five finishers were followed by Untuckit, Checkn Favorite, Cartels Legacy, Favorite Five and Single Brad.

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