VALIANTLI GIVES JENSEN AND YOUNG SECOND STRAIGHT WIN IN KINDERGARTEN FUTURITY
A quick recovery after a slight bobble at the start and a tremendous finish were Valiantli’s keys to winning the Grade 2, $257,500 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity on Sunday at Los Alamitos, an effort that gave owners Dennis Jensen and Randy Young their second straight victory in this race.
Ridden by Cruz Mendez from the outside post 10, the Valiant Hero filly had that slight hiccup leaving the gate, but she was fast into her stride and from there she guzzled up ground. Valiantli took the lead at the midway point and there was no catching her in route to a ¾ length victory over fastest qualifier Chicks First Flash. The exacta of Valiantli and Chicks First Flash gave trainer Monty Arrossa a sweep of the top two spots in this race and his second Kindergarten win in a row after saddling Jensen and Young’s Fire Fast Honey last year.
Sent off at near 6-1 odds, Valiantli also covered the 300 yards in :15.39, nearly matching Fire Fast Honey’s winning time last year of :15.37. Purchased for $88,000 purchase at the 2021 Heritage Place September Yearling Sale, the Bobby Cox-bred Valiantli came into this race after winning her trial by 1 ½ lengths, which was the largest margin of victory in the trials on that night.
“She ran strong in the trials on the end,” Arrossa said. “In her first workout, she also ran really strong. I didn’t think she was as strong in her maiden but in her trial race she ran super strong in the end. Tonight, she was flawless. It was a perfect trip. It’s a different night and you get the best group of horses together; they’re going to run faster.
“Just watching the replay of the race, she was perfect,” Arrossa added. “She’s been super at the gate. Her mind is fantastic. I have to thank Romero Fregoso in Idaho. He broke three of the four (Arrossa qualifiers) and did a great job getting this horse ready.”
Jensen and Young are the first owners to win consecutive runnings of the Kindergarten since EG High Desert Farms enjoyed back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004 with AQHA champion Hawkish and former track record holder Dash To End. Dutch Masters III in 2000-01 and Ivan Ashment in 1975-77 are the only other owners with repeat wins in the Kindergarten.
“I can’t believe this,” Jensen said. “Just a lot of luck.”
“She stumbled just a little bit and then she came on and I thought ‘here we go again,’ “ Young added. “She is real professional and did a great job. Her maiden race was from the outside and she won her trial from the outside so we liked her draw. It was a great post for her. We were hoping for it and we got it.”
Young said that Valiantli was an eye-catching yearling.
“We went and looked a few and she just had a nice hip on her,” Young said.
“The bottom side…” Jenses added. “Her mother, La Vencedora, was tremendous. She won the (RG2) Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Futurity and (G3) Oklahoma Derby.”
“Her mother ran third in her first out and so did (Valiantli),” Young said. “Valiantli has won her next two outs and her mother won her next four outs after her third. Hopefully, she plays on like her mother did.”
La Vencedora won five of her nine career starts, never finished lower than third, while garnering $516,296 in earnings.
Valiantli earned $108,150 for winning the Kindergarten to take her career earnings to $112,400. Winning rider Cruz Mendez was also picking up his third career win in this race.
“I liked her post position,” Mendez said. “She behaved so well. She stumbled a little bit leaving but once she was up and running, she got a hold of the track and did things very easily. She finished very strong. I was worried about one of the horses in the middle of the track but after 100 yards I felt good about our changes. We started leaving our rivals behind.”
Now having Fire Fast Honey and Valiantli as future broodmares, Jensen and Young can start thinking about winning the Kindergarten in future years with a homebred.
“That’s our dream,” Jensen said. “It would be the best.”
Owned by Five Livestock Racing and Steve Wright, Chicks First Flash earned $43,775 for his runner-up effort. Armando Cervantes piloted the gelding by First Moonflash from post number five. Keith Nellesen’s Muy Bien Corona, who began his career with a pair of victories, left the gate in great form, had the early lead but was not able to keep up with Valiantli after the gap and had to settle for third. The Heath Taylor-trainee earned $30,900 for running third. The top three finishers were followed by Mornings With Maria, One Sweet Bar, Navaja, One Sweet Duck, Smokin Hot Fire, Fraq Attack, and J Perfect Deal.