SCOOPS DYNASTY OUTDUELS WORLD CHAMPION EMPRESSUM TO WIN GO MAN GO
Ed and Von Zae McNelis’ Scoops Dynasty chased AQHA World Champion Empressum all year long only to finish behind the impressive millionaire in each of their first four meetings of 2023.
In their fifth encounter of the year, Scoops Dynasty finally outdueled Empressum, an the 4-year-old by FDD Dynasty did so in style as he took the lead in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap shortly after the start, opened a ¾ length advantage at the midway point and crossed the wire a ½ length ahead of Empressum to win the $100,000 Go Man Go at 400 yards.
Ridden by Armando Cervantes for trainer Monty Arrossa, Scoops Dynasty covered the distance in :19.358 from post number four while enjoying his first victory in six starts this year. Scoops Dynasty had been close to winning all season long, as he ran second four times in his first five starts, three of those times running second to Empressum with every meeting resulting in a thrilling race. In their first encounter, Empressum caught Scoops Dynasty in the final yards to win by a nose in their trial to the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship on January 29. Empressum was second in the Brad McKinzie final while Scoops Dynasty finished a far running third. It was a much closer affair in the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity final with Empressum once again catching Scoops Dynasty to win by a neck. Their fourth encounter was a classic, as Empressum needed to be at his very best to hold off a fast-closing Scoops Dynasty in the Grade 2 Bank of America California Challenge Championship by a nose at 440 yards. At last, Scoops Dynasty was the better of the two in the Go Man Go, as there was no need for a photo finish to identify the winner. Scoops Dynasty was the clear Go Man Go winner and his effort was his fourth stakes victory in Los Alamitos career.
“It was unbelievable,” said Ed McNelis after his homebred’s victory. “It’s what you work for. You breed them, raise them, care for them, and it all came together. I just can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a great horse and that’s a great horse we just ran against. You can tell from their previous meeting. (Scoops Dynasty) made up for it tonight and I couldn’t be happier.”
Having to wait until late August for his first win of the year, Scoops Dynasty had a much different campaign in 2022. As a sophomore, Scoops Dynasty lost only once last year, as his six wins from seven starts included victories in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, Grade 2 Golden State Derby and in the Adequan California Derby Challenge. His only loss of the year was a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby.
“He wasn’t even four when he started this year,” McNelis said of Scoops Dynasty, who was born in March. “He’s growing and maturing, and we couldn’t be happier. It just inspires us. One of our goals is (the Champions of Champions). The best thing is that he is sound.”
Cervantes, who has ridden Scoops Dynasty in seven of his eight career victories, knew early on that the Go Man Go was going to be different than their previous matchups with Empressum.
“He set up good in the gates and he broke decent,” Cervantes said. “Towards the middle I let him roll a little bit. I switched left-handed on him and then switched back on him and he threw another gear. I was just taking care to make sure that (Empressum) didn’t get closer. I’m thankful for the connections to let me ride this type of horse. (Scoops Dynasty) likes the competition. I know he can run more, but he needs that head-to-head horse. He did a good job today. He broke and did the rest well.”
Trainer Monty Arrossa said that Scoops Dynasty could run in the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship at Lone Star Park if he is invited. He could also just take some time off and rest while waiting for the final two months of the year. His earnings of $55,000 for this win took his career earnings to $524,661. Out of the Dashin Bye mare Bye Sweet Girl, Scoops Dynasty has won eight of 18 career starts.
Owned and bred by Steve Holt and Jeff Jones, Empressum earned $22,500 for his runner-up effort to take his lifetime earnings to $1,765,544. He has won 21 of 29 career starts while finishing first or second 25 times. Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo piloted the son of Apollitical Jess for trainer Heath Taylor.
Ed Allred’s London Toby, the winner of the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap, earned $12,500 for running third. The Scott Willoughby-trainee has earned $127,593 in his career. Shott Gun and Slews Fortunate completed the field.