BALLAST POINT EVENTUALLY GETS THE CANDY IN TRICK OR TREAT HANDICAP
Paul Jones and Thompson Racing LLC’s Ballast Point was the big 3-5 favorite in the $15,000 Trick Or Treat Handicap at 870 yards, but the outstanding distance runner needed every bit of his talent to outduel the 10-year-old veteran Justamitch by a head on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Making his first start at 870 yards since mid-April, Ballast Point may have been a little rusty early on, as he trailed Justamitch in the early going, but he never let the savvy veteran get too far ahead of him, eventually taking the lead in the backstretch and never letting it go from there. With Ramon Guce aboard, Ballast Point covered the distance in :45.123 while posting his fifth victory in seven starts at 870 yards.
“Justamitch ran a good race,” said Jones, who also trains the Favorite Cartel gelding. “He actually outbroke (Ballast Point). It’s not very often that a Thoroughbred outbreaks Ballast Point out. Justamitch had the lead and made Ballast Point work pretty hard. I thought the Thoroughbred would have more on the end of it than us, but Ballast Point outran him late and outfinished him. It’s an impressive effort especially since he had not run 870 in six months. He kind of needed the race.”
Ballast Point’s most recent start was a fourth-place finish to John Carter Cash in the 440-yard Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship Challenge. Ballast Point has also raced at 550 yards in many occasions, finishing second in three stakes races during his career. However, the 870-yard distance in where he has excelled, highlighted by his four-length win in the Snowbound Superstar last year and a two length victory in an allowance event on February 23. Nevertheless, the Steve Burns-bred runner came into the Trick Or Treat with a few cobwebs considering his last distance start came on April 19.
“He had an 870 work and a 660 work but there’s nothing like a race,” Jones said. “He had not gone around the turn in a long time. Ramon Guce said he warmed up a little flat too. He wasn’t on his toes like in so many of his other races. It showed in how he left away from the gates. He was still good enough to outfinish them.”
Ballast Point earned $8,250 for the win to take his career earnings to $67,235. The 4-year-old also improved to six wins in 18 starts. Having raced at 440, 550 and 870 in 2020, Ballast Point has proven to be a versatile Quarter Horses, but Jones is still hoping to see him go around the turn this year.
“You never know what we’ll do with him next,” the trainer said. “There’s another 870 stakes later in the year so hopefully we can go there. We have the option, if we want, to try 1,000 yards. That’s a possibility. I asked Guce what he thought, and he thought he could handle it. That may be one of our options.”
Owned by Raul Mariscal and trained by Salvador Naranjo, Justamitch earned $3,375 for his runner-up effort. The Thoroughbred sired by Onebadshark has finished in the money in 35 of his 57 career starts and his earnings from this race take his career bankroll to $145,082. For the year, he has won four of 11 starts and has hit the board in all but one of those outings. Francisco Orduna Rojas rode Justamitch. Love Your Life and Project Leader completed the field.