LARC NEWS Posted: 1/28/2023 2:34:53 PM

EMPRESSUM IS 2022 PCQHRA HORSE OF THE YEAR; PAUL JONES IS PRESENTED WITH FRANK N. VESSELS MEMORIAL AWARD

        Steve Holt and Jeff Jones’ homebred Empressum, who was named 2022 AQHA World Champion on January 18, can add the title of 2022 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Horse of the Year to his lofty resume after being honored with the award at the PCQHRA Awards Banquet on Friday night.  

         Hosted by Michael Wrona, the PCQHRA Awards Banquet celebrated the achievements of California’s Quarter Horse breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, and champion horses of the 2022 season.

          During a tremendous campaign at Los Alamitos, Empressum won the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity, Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap, and in the race of the year in Quarter Horse racing, he won the 50th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions. The gelding by Apollitical Jess and out of the mare Crazy Down Corona, Empressum was also named the champion aged gelding. Heath Taylor trains the Oklahoma-bred, who was ridden throughout his campaign by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo.

          “He’s a magnificent horse,” Taylor said of Empressum. “He’s extremely fast. He has a great personality. I don’t know if it’s because of a lot of time spent with the horse, but even when I walk in the barn, he recognizes my voice. He could be in the back of his stall asleep and he’ll get up as soon as he hears us talking. I think the connection I have with this horse is similar to the connections people with their pet at home. I would be remiss not to thank all of the barn help; the groom, the assistant, the farriers, the jockeys. Jose Nicasio spent a lot of time with this horse all year, taking care of the horse, and Rodrigo (Sigala Vallejo) flying over to give him a lot of great rides. Dr. Ashley Troncatty has done a great job taking care of this horse from a veterinary standpoint. I get to come up here and talk, but it’s a team honor. It takes a village to be fortunate enough to have a horse like this one.

        “The atmosphere on the night of the Champion of Champions perhaps because of the buildup, the rivals – Apollitical Pence, Danjer, Bomb Cyclone, 10 great horses – the electricity in that race that night, it was a remarkable race,” Taylor added. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have won the All American a couple of times, but I don’t think there’s anything that compares to the excitement and atmosphere of that night.”

        Paul Jones (photo), one of the most successful trainers in the history of Quarter Horse racing, was presented with the 2022 Frank Vessels, Sr. Memorial Award. Jones was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the sport of Quarter Horse racing. He is the second all-time leading trainer in wins at Los Alamitos and the industry’s all-time leading trainer in earnings. Jones is also a top breeder and owner. He co-bred the tremendous stallion Favorite Cartel and bred the AQHA champion and top stallion Foose.  

        “I’ve dedicated my whole life to the Quarter Horse racing industry and it’s been great to me,” Paul Jones said. “I really love this place (Los Alamitos Race Course). It’s definitely the best track and without a doubt the greatest horsemen of all time have come through this track, the greatest trainers, owners, breeders, jockeys, vets, horseshoers, the whole group of people. This track has definitely made the best horsemen of all time. I have to thank my wife (Marin), my mother (Joyce), and everyone who has supported me, all my clients, grooms, jockeys, but most of all the great horsemen here and all the great people who have been through Los Alamitos over the years. Not all of them are here with us today, but their memories remain here at Los Alamitos.”

         Gentry Farms’ Kiss Thru Fire was named champion aged mare for the second straight year. The Walk Thru Fire won four stakes races last year, including the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap and the inaugural running of the Abigail Kawananakoa Stakes. She’s also been named the AQHA champion aged mare each of the past two years. Johnny Trotter’s stakes placed runner Famous Cartel Jess was named the champion aged stallion.

         After winning the title of champion 2-year-old colt last year, M&G Racing’s Golden Boi was named the champion 3-year-old colt. He won the La Primera Del Año Derby and the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap. The Favorite Cartel colt was also the AQHA champion colt this year and last year. Ed and Theresa DeNike’s Sweet Tess was named the champion 2-year-old filly following his victory in the Los Alamitos Oaks.

         “I want to thank Pat Visscher,” said Ed DeNike of Sweet Tess’ trainer. “We’ve been racing several types of horses for 40 years and I’ve never seen a more dedicated person. I appreciate everything she’s done for us.”

         Rosenthal Ranch’s Bomb Cyclone and Edward and Von Zae McNelis’ Scoops Dynasty were dual winners in the 3-year-old gelding category. Bomb Cyclone won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby, while Scoops Dynasty won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the Golden State Derby.

        In the juvenile ranks, Rosenthal Ranch’s Cyber Attack was named the champion 2-year-old colt following his victory in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity. JGA Racing Stable’s Party Politics was the champion 2-year-old gelding after winning both the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity and the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. Clanfield Act Stables’ Frivolous was named the champion 2-year-old filly following her victory in the Restricted Grade 1 Governor’s Cup Futurity. Link Newcomb’s Cattail Cove, a two-time stakes winner last year, was the Moonist Award winner, while Robert Harrison’s Pattys Saint, the winner of the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap, was named the Intermountain Horse of the Year at Los Alamitos.

       “Cattail Cove loves the track and loves running hard,” Newcomb said. “Shortly after I started owning horses, my family and I won the Los Alamitos Million Futurity and qualified to many other Grade 1 races. I thought winning races was easy back then. It took 20 years to get another stakes win thanks to Cattail Cove. He’s been a blessing and I appreciate this horse so much.”

         Robert Harrison was not on hand to accept the award for Pattys Saint, but trainer Monty Arrossa explained why the Idaho-based owner could not attend the event.

        “Mr. Harrison is 91 years old and the reason he couldn’t make it tonight is because he’s helping his mare, who are foaling right now,” Arrossa said. “He’s what this industry is about. He’s my hero.”  

         Dr. Becky Fitzgerald, DVM, was presented with the Sam Thompson Memorial Award for her exhibiting leadership within the racing community at Los Alamitos Race Course. Dr. Fitzgerald is the track veterinarian at Los Alamitos Race Course.

        Ed Allred was recognized as the Owner of the Year, while JGA Racing Stables won the Owner Special Achievement Award. JGA Racing Stables campaigned Party Politics. Jose Flores was the Trainer of the Year, while Monty Arrossa received the Trainer Special Achievement Award. Arrossa trains Grade 1 winner Apollitical Pence and Scoops Dynasty, plus stakes winners Chicks First Flash, Favorite Honey, Jet Wings One, and Valiantli.  Arrossa’s entire team of grooms and assistants were on hand to join him in accepting the trainer special achievement award.

         “These guys are the heart and soul of our industry,” Arrossa said. “These guys allow us to do what we do every single day and without them none of us would be here.”

         Jesus Rios Ayala was the Jockey of the Year while Henry Reynoso Lopez, who rode stakes winner Frivolous and top runners Majority Interest and Monopolist, won the Jockey Special Achievement Award. The breeder awards went to Steve Burns as Breeder of the Year, while Jeryl Hartley was awarded the Breeder Special Achievement Award.

          “We have the best crew in the world at Burns Ranch,” Dr. Steve Burns said, who earlier in the week was also named AQHA champion breeder. “My thanks to everyone who bought a Burns Ranch bred horse.”

         The Val Tonks Award presented to an up-and-coming young rider went to Irving Lara.

          In the Thoroughbred divisions at Los Alamitos, Jesus Uranga won titles as leading owner and trainer, while Ricardo Ramirez was the leading pilot. Ramirez also won the riding title in the Mixed-Breed division, while Uranga was the leading trainer in the Mixed-Breed division and the co-leading owner along with David Hinkins. Belico Racing and Lizbeth Medina’s See Through It was named the 1000-Yard Horse of the Year at Los Alamitos after winning the Winter Final.

         The leading money winning Cal-Breds in various divisional categories were presented awards during the banquet. John Cooper, who retired from training following an accomplished spanning six decades, and FanDuel/TVG received special recognition awards.   

          The complete list of award winners follows below featuring each nominee and winner in bold.

2022 PCQHRA AWARDS

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT

CYBER ATTACK

Owner: Rosenthal Ranch, LLC.

Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

Presented by P.C.Q.H.R.A.

TWO-YEAR-OLD GELDING

PARTY POLITICS

Owner: JGA Racing Stables, Inc.

Breeder: J. Garvan Kelly

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY

FRIVOLOUS

Owner: Clanfield Act Stables

Breeder: Edward C. Allred

THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT

GOLDEN BOI

Owner/Breeder: M&G Farms, Inc.

THREE-YEAR-OLD GELDING

BOMB CYCLONE

Owner: Rosenthal Ranch, LLC.

Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY

SWEET TESS

Owner/Breeder: Edward A. and Theresa DeNike

AGED STALLION

FAMOUS CARTEL JESS

Owner/Breeder: Johnny Trotter

AGED GELDING

EMPRESSUM

Owner/Breeder: Jeff D. Jones and Steve A. Holt

AGED MARE

KISS THRU FIRE

Owner: Gentry Farms (Robert Kirk Gentry/Robbi Force)

Breeder: Gentry Farms

MOONIST AWARD

CATTAIL COVE

Owner: Ralph Link Newcomb

Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

MOST IMPROVED HORSE AWARD

HAY SHAKER

Owner: Alfredo Alonzo, Luciano D. and Robert C. Martinez

Breeder: Paul Jones/Thompson Racing Inc.

INTERMOUNTAIN HORSE AWARD

PATTYS SAINT

Owner/Breeder: Robert L. Harrison

HORSE OF THE YEAR

EMPRESSUM

Owner/ Breeder: Jeff D. Jones and Steve A. Holt

FRANK VESSELS, SR.

MEMORIAL AWARD

pAUL JONES

In Recognition of an Outstanding Contribution to the Sport of Quarter Horse Racing

sam thompson memorial award

Presented by P.C.Q.H.R.A. to

REBECCA fITZGERALD, DVM

For an Individual who displays leadership within the Los Alamitos racing community

JAMES V.A. CARTER AWARD

Outstanding Broodmare

REMEMBER ME ROSE

Owner: Steve D. Burns, DVM

Breeder: MLA International Company

THREE BARS AWARD

Outstanding Stallion

favorite cartel

Owner: Steve D. Burns, DVM and Bobby Cox

Breeder: Paul C. Jones and Thompson Racing, Inc.

OWNER OF THE YEAR

Edward C. Allred

OWNER-SPECIAL RECOGNITION

JGA RACING STABLES, LLC

BREEDER OF THE YEAR

Steve d. burns, dvm

Breeder - SPECIAL recognition

JERYL HARTLEY

TRAINER OF THE YEAR

JOSE A. FLORES

trainer - SPECIAL Recognition

MONTY ARROSSA

JOCKEY OF THE YEAR

JESUS RIOS AYALA

JOCKEY-SPECIAL RECOGNITION

HENRY REYNOSO LOPEZ

VAL TONKS MEMORIAL AWARD

IRVING LARA

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

TWO-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED COLT

CYBER ATTACK

Cal-Bred Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

TWO-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED GELDING

HAY SHAKER

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

TWO-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED FILLY

FRivolous

Cal-Bred Breeder: Edward C. Allred

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

THREE-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED COLT

golden boi

Cal-Bred Breeder: M&G Farms, Inc

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

THREE-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED GELDING

bomb cyclone

Cal-Bred Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

THREE-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED FILLY

fire fast honey

Cal-Bred Breeder: Silver Racing Farm, LLC.

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

AGED CAL-BRED GELDING

monopolist

Cal-Bred Breeder: Edward C. Allred

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

AGED CAL-BRED MARE

kiss thru fire

Cal-Bred Breeder: Gentry Farms

LEADING MONEY-EARNING

CAL-BRED HORSE OF THE YEAR

CYBER ATTACK

Cal-Bred Breeder: Steve D. Burns, DVM

THOROUGHBRED OWNER OF THE YEAR

JESUS J. URanga

THOROUGHBRED JOCKEY OF THE YEAR

RICARDO S. RAMIREZ

THOROUGHBRED TRAINER OF THE YEAR

jesus j. uranga

1000 YARD CHAMPION HORSE OF THE YEAR

SEE THROUGH IT

Owner: Belico Racing, LLC. and Lizbeth Medina

Breeder: Edward C. Allred

MIXED-BREED JOCKEY OF THE YEAR

RICARDO S. RAMIREZ

MIXED-BREED TRAINER OF THE YEAR

jesus j. uranga

SPECIAL P.c.q.h.r.a.

rECOGNITION aWARD

PRESENTED TO

fanduel/tvg

SPECIAL P.c.q.h.r.a.

rECOGNITION aWARD

PRESENTED TO

JOHN l. COOPER

-30-


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