POLITICAL RIVALRY NOW A PERFECT THREE FOR THREE AFTER POSTING TOP TIME TO ED BURKE FINAL
Choosing to pass up on running in a graded futurity final after having a horse qualify to the race is a decision that you rarely see in Quarter Horse racing. In the case of Keith Nellesen and his homebred Political Rivalry, opting not to run in the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity and instead pointing the KVN Corona gelding for the trials to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity turned out to be a brilliant decision.
Ridden by Jose Nicasio and trained by Heath Taylor, Political Rivalry (left) posted the fastest qualifying time to the Ed Burke final after winning the eighth of 10 trials by ¾ lengths on Sunday at Los Alamitos. Bred by McColee Land & Livestock, LLC, which Nellesen co-owns, Political Rivalry took his record to a perfect three for three after leading his trial from start to finish while posting a time of :17.712 at 350 yards. The effort made Political Rivalry a multiple futurity finalist, even though he scratched out of the Kindergarten final. The decision to do so was purely strategic, as Nellesen had three other juveniles in the race, but only Political Rivalry was eligible to run in the trials to the richer Ed Burke final. With that in mind, the connections of Political Rivalry decided that instead of seeing the four stablemates battle each other in the Kindergarten, that it was worthy gamble to bypass the Kindergarten final with Political Rivalry and go after the Ed Burke final.
Clearly, there are no regrets with the decision, as Political Rivalry was the fastest among the 77 juveniles that compete in the Ed Burke trials on Sunday. With Nellesen’s Utah bred leading the way, the horses with the 10 fastest times in the trials will return for the $900,000 Ed Burke final on Sunday, June 18. For Nellesen, he’ll look to win the Ed Burke for the second time after his AQHA champion KVN Corona won the race in 2017.
“The horse has been professional and has shown a lot of precociousness from the start,” Taylor said of Political Rivalry. “We've been high on the horse. He fell down in the Kindergarten trials, stumbled really badly on the first two jumps, but qualified mid-pack.
“We were fortunate enough for the same (owner) to qualify four horses. We just got to thinking and looking at the nomination list and this horse was eligible for the (Grade 1) Ed Burke and the owner for this particular year didn't have many horses paid in the Ed Burke. It's not very wise to scratch because these races are very difficult to qualify in. It became a decision to instead of running four horses against each other for $275,000, he thought that this horse had won both races easy that maybe we should take him out. We discussed it and I told him that if not (run in the Kindergarten trials) that we would have to work the horse. We went ahead and ran in the Kindergarten trials with the hope that some of the other horses would qualify. We were fortunate enough to (qualify). He probably was the best of the bunch, but that doesn't mean that he would have won.
“We thought we took our best chance with Think Again Kev, Choosen One, and Kevins Knockout. We could have possibly left a little bit of money on the table there, but you are talking about running four horses and he got a good check for scratching. We freshened the horse, and it was a big risk with 10 trials, Grade 1, farther distance, but we took a chance to run in here. We were blessed to qualify and win here and now it looks like was a good decision. He owns the stallion, he owns the mare, it helps promote the stallion. It's a good advertisement during breeding season. It's a multitude effect for him as the owner of the stud and the mare. It turned out well.”
Taylor also qualified Fulton Quien Sabe Ranch’s Hot Prodigy to the Ed Burke after the Texas-bred colt by Apollitical Jess won trial number four by 1 ¼ lengths in the third fastest qualifying time of :17.779.
Picking up his first win in two career starts, Hot Prodigy is the product of one of the hottest families in Quarter Horse racing. In addition to being sired by sensational Apollitical Jess, Hot Prodigy is out of the mare Pandorum, who is the mother of the champion millionaire Hotstepper and the graded stakes winner Hotsempting.
“Obviously, he's a regal bred colt,” Taylor said of Hot Prodigy. “We've had high expectations for the horse all year. They kept the horse. He didn't go through any sales. He's a brother to Hotstepper, Hotsempting, and some really high-quality Grade 1 runners.
“We’ve brought (Hot Prodigy) along slowly. He's been a horse that's wanted a lot more distance. We've been waiting for the 350, 400, 440 futurities. We've been pretty easy with him as far as drilling him and just wanted to keep him sound. He ran a little green first time out and got beat by a really nice horse. He came back tonight and improved some more. It looked like to me that for maybe the last 30, 40 yards is when he got comfortable and did his best work. We hope he continues to improve. I think he's a really nice colt.”
The Parsons family will be represented by a pair of homebreds in the Ed Burke after the Parson Rock filly Rockin With Energy won the first trial followed by the KVN Corona colt Kevins Wise Corona (left) winning the second trial. Owned by Parsons Ranch, Kevins Wise Corona finished with the second fastest time of :17.743 after winning his trial by 1 ¼ lengths. Henry Reynoso Lopez piloted both Parsons-runners, who were trained by Paul Jones.
“He's been one of my biggest hopefuls,” said Jones of Kevins Wise Corona. “He really worked well. His first work he did good and then came back worked in 12 flat the second time. He really showed a lot of promise. He came back and won his first out and then came and run nice tonight. I just wanted to see him get a clean trip. He's a nice horse and reminds me a lot of KVN Corona. He has the same attitude as his daddy. I'm proud to have him and he's one of the barn's favorites. He has a lot of talent. He's able to run and has ability. That's what it takes.”
Racing for Parsons Family Limited Partnership, Rockin With Energy won the opening trial by 1 ½ lengths while covering the distance in the sixth fastest time of :17.805.
“It was nice to start the night with a win,” Jones said. “It takes a little bit of the pressure off. There's a lot leading up to this night. You look forward to it the whole year for the Ed Burke trials. The Parsons have just a great breeding program and they sent me some really nice horses. We are having a good year and I'm really happy to have them be a part of my stable.”
Owned by Robyn Gordon, Juan H. Moya, and S-Quarter K LLC, Heza Good Reason (right) won the final trial by a length while posting the fourth fastest qualifying time of :17.790. Bred by S-Quarter K LLC, the gelding is by the champion Good Reason SA out of the great mare Dasha Freda. Ridden by Erasmo Gasca and trained by Jose Flores, Heza Good Reason is a half-brother to 2014 Ed Burke winner Heza Dasha Fire. Flores also trains the Ed Allred-bred Change Happens, who ran third to Political Rivalry, but managed to post the ninth fastest time of :17.868 for the partnership of Rojas Racing, Paul Blanchard, Javier Chavez, Juan H. Moya. Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Change Happens is a gelding by Favorite Cartel out of the top producing mare Make Over.
Bradbury Racing’s homebred Talk Bout Somethin finished second to Political Rivalry in the trial and joined the trial winner and Change Happens as a top 10 qualifier to the Ed Burke. The filly by KVN Corona out of Ms Talks Alot finished with the eighth fastest time o :17.857. She was ridden by Henry Reynoso Lopez for Paul Jones.
The list of Ed Burke qualifiers was completed by a trio of trial winners in Weetona Stanley’s Stanley Cartel; Gentry Farms’ Seperate Heart; and Rancho El Cabresto’s HRH Royal Cartel.
Ridden by Armando Cervantes for trainer Monty Arrossa, Stanley Cartel won his trial by a length in the fifth fastest time of :17.796. The Oklahoma-bred colt by PYC Paint Your Wagon is out of the lightly raced mare First Prize Fancy, a granddaughter of the famous mare First Prize Rose.
“He ran a flawless race,” Arrossa said of Stanley Cartel. “In his maiden, he didn't run quite as sharp but ran strong. Tonight, I think he took a step forward and ran a nice trial. He broke well, he finished well, I'm happy with him tonight. He's a real mature horse. He's really focused. In these tough trials, you have to have the break, you have to have the finish and put it all together. He's starting to do that. The break is always critical. He's starting to do that. He stayed out of trouble, he got rolling, that helped him to get going.”
Owned and bred by Gentry Farms, Seperate Heart scored one of the big surprises of the night after winning her trial by 2 ½ lengths at 12-1 odds. The filly by Seperate Interest is out of the mare Heartbeat, a winner of $67,000 in her racing career and the daughter of the multiple graded stakes winner Fearless Freda. Victor Salazar rode the winner for trainer Juan Aleman.
Salazar and Aleman also teamed up with HRH Royal Cartel, as the colt by Corona Cartel won his trial by ¾ lengths in the 10th fastest time of :17.873. HRH Royal Cartel was bred by the late Hall of Fame owner and breeder Abigail Kawananakoa.
Here’s the complete list of qualifiers to the Ed Burke Million Futurity: Political Rivalry (:17.715), Kevins Wise Corona (:17.748), Hot Prodigy (:17.779), Heza Good Reason (:17.790), Stanley Cartel (:17.796), Rocking With Energy (:17.805), Seperate Heart (:17.846), Talk Bout Somethin (:17.857), Change Happens (:17.868), and HRH Royal Cartel (:17.873).