UP THE LADDER WINS HOLIDAY HANDICAP ON THE OPENER OF NEW LOS ALAMITOS MEET
Ed Allred’s Up The Ladder is racing up to his name, as the Kiddy Up gelding has now won back-to-back stakes races following a hard-fought victory over the talented Jess Hez On Fire in the $20,000 Holiday Handicap on the opening night of the new Los Alamitos meet on Sunday.
The Holiday Handicap was the final race of the year for 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos and as such the field was a talented one. In addition to the Allred-bred Up The Ladder and Connie Nutt and Turner Farms’ Jess Hez On Fire, the Holiday field included multiple Intermountain futurity winner Mound Valley Eagle and Canadian stakes winner Wave Burner. The Holiday also featured Autumn Handicap winner Lovely Evening, Grade 1 futurity finalist Run By Your Cartel and All American Futurity trial winner God Luvs Cowboys.
Bruce and Jill Thompson’s Run By Your Cartel was the early Holiday leader, as the Ed Burke Million finalist opened a neck advantage early on. Jess Hez On Fire and Up The Ladder swooped into contention at the midway point of the 350-yard dash before the two moved ahead of Run By Your Cartel and dueled for the win in the final 50 yards. In the end, Up The Ladder edged his rival by head to score his fourth win in eight starts this year, while covering the distance in :17.872. Out the A Regal Choice mare Oh La Princess, Up The Ladder earned $11,000 for the win to take his career earnings to $34,430. Jonathan Roman piloted Up The Ladder for trainer Scott Willoughby.
“This horse has done great,” Willoughby said. “He still needs to get away from the gate a little better, but he’s going to love going 400 yards. I think he’s going to make a nice 3-year-old. I’m very proud of him and I think we have a nice derby horse. He’s in several of them next year.”
Up The Ladder has previously won the Dream A Secret Stakes also at 350 yards on November 13. As for Roman, he came into this race having ridden A Dash Of Sign to victory in the Grade 2 Southern California Derby on closing night of the last meet.
Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, the Turner Farms-bred Jess Hez On Fire earned $4,500 for running second. The Allred-homebred Lovely Evening picked up a check for $2,500 for finishing third, while Run By Your Cartel held on to fourth place. Mound Valley Eagle, God Luvs Cowboys and Wave Burner completed the field.