FORTY YEARS SINCE LAST VISIT, JUNGERS BACK IN LOS AL WINNER’S CIRCLE WITH ASSCHER IN HOLIDAY HANDICAP
The last time Marc Jungers led a horse into the Los Alamitos Race Course winner’s circle prior to Saturday’s Holiday Handicap was in the early 1980s.
“Last time I won a race here was as a groom in 1982 with Denim N Diamonds,” said Jungers referring to the 1981 Champion of Champions winner and two-time AQHA champion aged mare.
Over 40 years later, Jungers returned to the winner’s circle at Los Alamitos, but this time as the trainer of a new stakes winner after Lance Bland and Jimmy Barton’s filly, Asscher, outdueled an excellent field of juveniles in the $20,000 Holiday Handicap here on Saturday night.
“It’s a sweet moment right now and I’m very excited.” Jungers said. “This filly, we knew she could run. She qualified to the Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso.”
Sired by FDD Dynasty and out of the 2015 AQHA champion filly Astica, Asscher posted her second victory in six career starts after jockey Christian Ramos piloted her to a neck victory over Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity finalist Relentless Coronado in a 350-yard time of :17.716. Bred by MJ Farms, Asscher was making her second start in Southern California after having a solid campaign at Ruidoso Downs.
At the New Mexico track, the filly won her trial to the Grade 1 Rainbow Futurity and finished eighth in the final. She then ran a solid to the Favorite Cartel colt King Apache in a trial to the All American Futurity. Asscher then traveled to Los Alamitos where she ran fourth in her trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Forty-one nights later, Asscher is the winner of the Holiday Handicap.
Purchased for $350,000 at the 2022 Ruidoso Yearling Sale, Asscher’s outstanding breeding caught the eye of her owners.
“Lance Bland came to me and told me to buy this filly at the sale,” Jungers added. “And we did, and we’ll run her in the (Los Alamitos) Oaks. That’s the plan.”
“She just stood out so much,” Bland said of Asscher. “Her dam was that special. We decided that’s what we were going to go for and that’s what we did.”
Bland, who lives in Lubbock, Texas, has campaigned some excellent sprinters in recent years including Relentless Eagle, a multiple Grade 1 finalist who earned $103,045.
“I’ve been (owning) for quite a few years but never to this magnitude,” Bland said. “We had four 2-year-old Quarter Horses this last year and now we have like 11 coming into this year. We’re just growing, having fun, and trying to make it all work.”
His racing interest includes a nice mix of colts and fillies.
“What stands out is what we try to buy,” he said. “We run a lot in Ruidoso, Remington Park, and now we came out here, mainly for the Oaks for her. That’s why we brought her out here. We got two or three coming next year that will be here as well.”
As for Jungers, this is his first training win at Los Alamitos, but it’s not a surprise that someone close to the great Denim N Diamonds, has found success in the Quarter Horse industry.
During his training career, Jungers has saddled 89 winners for earnings of more than $2.24 million. A multiple graded stakes winning trainer, Jungers conditioned the previously mentioned Relentless Eagle. He also trained No Mires A La Luna, who won the Grade 2 Zia Park Stakes and the Grade 2 Jess Burner Stakes in 2021; Jes An Angel, who won the Grade 2 Southwest Juvenile Championship in 2022; and Shakers No Secret, the winner of the 2023 Grade 3 West Texas Maturity. Jungers has enjoyed a career best year in 2023 with 265 starters, 34 winners and earnings of nearly $1.1 million – all personal bests.
Jungers will now concentrate on continuing to develop the fine filly Asscher, who earned $49,450 during her freshman year, including $11,000 for winning the Holiday Handicap from post number three.
Zynda Racing’s Relentless Coronado ran a solid second from the outside post nine, earning $4,500 for his runner-up effort. The son of Hes Relentless finished his juvenile year with three wins from nine starts and top three finishes in seven of those outings. He earned $104,686 in 2023. Eduardo Nicasio rode the Reliance Ranches LLC-bred runner for trainer Eddie Willis.
Regina Laymon’s Favorite Nova ran third also for Willis. The top three finishers were followed by Kevins Wise Corona, Xpensive, Pappas Fame, M E Ettago Relent, Jessa Dashin Hero and CD Docs Candidata.