APOLLITICAL IS GOLD IN $1,104,550 GOLDEN STATE MILLION FUTURITY;
KLAIBER IS FIRST WOMAN JOCKEY TO WIN MILLION DOLLAR RACE AT LOS ALAMITOS
It is not often that you hear right now that plans made at the beginning of 2020 came to fruition and even exceeded any hopeful early expectations. Yet, that is what happened with Grant Cox Revocable Trust’s homebred Apollitical Gold, as the plans made by his connections back in January came true after the gelding by Apollitical Jess won the Grade 1, $1,104,550 Golden State Million Futurity Sunday at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Sent off at 23-1 odds, Grant Cox Revocable Trust’s homebred Apollitical Gold broke sharply from post seven, took the lead early on and then held off Oklahoma Futurity winner Aint She Tempting by a head to win the richest running of the Golden State Million since 2012. With his hard-fought victory in the 400-yard race, Apollitical Gold gave Cox the richest win of his career as a racehorse owner, while also giving trainer Eddie Willis his richest victory ever at Los Alamitos Race Course. Piloting Apollitical Gold to victory was 25-year-old Justine Klaiber, who in the Golden State Million became the first woman jockey to win a million-dollar race at Los Alamitos.
All in all, in covering the distance in a time of :19.650, Apollitical Gold’s victory was the culmination of a plan drawn up by his connection well before his March 9 debut at Remington Park.
“Believe it or not, before he ever won a race, he had a schedule and this was on that schedule,” said Dr. Grant Cox, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist from Tulsa, Oklahoma. “(The win) was surreal because we own the mom and bred the mare. We watched him as a baby. My dad fed (him) every day. For this horse to win this race, it is unbelievable. I have to thank my mom and my dad and my wife for letting me spend money on horses when we probably didn’t have it. I think (Los Alamitos Race Course owner) Ed Allred does a great job in trying to keep racing fair and I really respect that. I wanted to be here. It just worked out.”
It has been a well laid out plan so far, as Apollitical Gold also qualified to the Grade 1 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, where he finished third to the outstanding filly Whistle Stop Cafe. For the Cox family, they surely could have never predicted that a mare purchased by Cox’s father, Rex Cox, in the late 1970s would be a catalyst for so much success in racing more than 30 years later.
“My mom and dad have always had racing Quarter Horses,” Cox added. “They bought this horse’s great-grandmother in 1977 and most of our horses have come from that mare. Her name is Oh Mickey Go. Her last foal was a Strawfly Special baby (Oh Strawfly Go). We bred her to PYC Paint Your Wagon and we got this horse’s mother (Src Gold). It’s kind of beyond cool that this actually is happening. My brother (Dustin Cox) won the ($860,000) Remington Park Futurity with Im A Fancy PYC, but this is the first homebred from the great-grandmother that we’ve had to do this well.”
While Grant Cox lives in Tulsa, Apollitical Gold was raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, about an hour northeast of Tulsa.
“That’s where I grew up and that’s where (Src Gold) is now,” the owner added. “He went off at 23-1 (in the Golden State Million). He ran third in the All American Futurity and he went off at 23-1. He did well. He is what I call a finisher, he always finishes well. When he broke well, I thought that we had a chance. He didn’t have to come from behind. He doesn’t like to be passed. Eddie has done a great job with this horse. He’s been really patient with him.”
Willis has won over 1,500 Quarter Horse races and his horses have earned over $34 million. He’s won the All American Derby, Texas Classic Derby and Ruidoso Derby just to mention a few, but Apollitical Gold’s victory represents the second richest futurity win of his career, only behind Ragazzo’s win in the 2009 Heritage Place Futurity. Willis was quick to pass the credit for Apollitical Gold’s win to the other members of his team.
“(Apollitical Gold) has never not run a good race when we have run him,” he said. “I tried not to do too much with him before this race. I galloped him once and schooled him once. He has been very focused. My team that’s here with the horses did it all. I just oversee things a little bit. When I stood my three horses in the final earlier this week, he stood the best out of all of them. Based on that I thought he had the edge among the three.”
And of course, Klaiber’s win is a historical one, as it’s the richest win by woman rider in the 70-year history of Los Alamitos.
“Justine had worked with this horse in the past,” Willis said. “That’s why she had to come in to ride Apollitical Gold in the final. It’s special to win this big of a race. That’s why we are here for – to have moments like this. You have to be very lucky – everything needs to be right to win a race of this magnitude. It was right for us tonight. I had a good set of horses this year. That’s the reason I came out to Los Alamitos. We’ll be back three weeks from now for the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (on November 22). I am really looking forward to that weekend.
“I’ve known the Cox family for a long time, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I started training for them. Grant Cox bred and raised this horse. He brought him to my farm, and I kept him for two months. We worked with him and got him ready to race. I sent him back to Grant for a few months – kind of turned him out – before he came back for the start of his racing career.
“I’m not sending this one back to him again,” Willis said with a chuckle. “I’m keeping this one with me.”
For Klaiber, her win at Los Alamitos Race Course will be one to remember. The young pilot is having her best year yet, winning a career high 70 races and now going over $1 million in earnings.
“It’s been amazing,” said Klaiber, whose first ever riding victory came in an Arabian race at Arapahoe Park in 2016. “I’m grateful to have been able to ride all year long for Eddie Willis and be a part of the team. I couldn’t be here without him and all my friends and family supporting me. This is great. I just hope it keeps building. It just seems like every year it gets better and better. I show up for work every day and be glad to do what I love and work hard. It’s a lot of hard work. I don’t think any of it was given. We’ve all have worked for it. I think I was second or third leading rider at Fair Meadows and now I’m at Will Rogers Downs. I think I’ve won 31 races there so far for the meet with a couple of weeks left.”
With Willis qualifying three horses to the Golden State Million Futurity, Klaiber was a perfect choice to ride Apollitical Gold after jockey Jimmy Dean Brooks, who rode Apollitical Gold in the trials, was set to ride HR Princess Jess in the final.
“I broke (Apollitical Gold) last winter,” Klaiber said. “I rode him at Remington. Eddie was at the trials in Oklahoma and asked me to come and ride him. Jimmy (Dean Brooks) stood him and Eddie said that he stood better than he ever stood. He definitely left on top. The horse felt great. He broke better than he has ever broken. He finished fantastic. I couldn’t have asked him to run any better. He always runs like that – straight – he always has a good finish. He is phenomenal horse, and he gives you the best trip he can every time. I am happy.”
Klaiber has ridden two horses at Los Alamitos. In her first mount, she finished second in a stakes race on AQHA Bank of America Racing Challenge night. She made Los Alamitos history in her second mount.
Apollitical Gold earned $449,631 for the win to take his career earnings to $737,389. He’s won three of seven starts, finishing in the money in everyone of his starts.
Levings Racing LLC and Dunn Ranch LLC’s Aint She Tempting earned $181,994 for her runner-up effort. Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio for trainer John Cooper, the Tempting Dash filly won the Oklahoma Futurity and was second in the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity prior to arriving to Los Alamitos for the Golden State Million trials. A top three finisher in all six of her career starts, the McColee Land & Livestock LLC-bred Aint She Tempting raised her bankroll to $487,178.
Owned and trained by Jaime Gomez, J Best Boogie finished third under Jesus Rios Ayala. Bred by Rick Beck, the filly by Docs Best Card earned $128,466 in her stakes debut. Larry Rice’s HR Princess Jess, fifth in the All American Futurity, earned $74,939 for her fourth place finish in this race. Jimmy Dean Brooks piloted the Willis-trainee. The top four finishers were followed by Counting The Ways, Apollitical Patty, Favorite Doc, Constituent, Famous Cartel Jess and Jessa Bit Of Candy.