LARC NEWS Posted: 1/28/2024 11:42:18 PM



         Bobby Cox’s Jeriko, the newly named 2023 PCQHRA champion 3-year-old gelding, got his 4-year-old campaign off to a great start after winning the second of two trials to the Grade 1, $135,400 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship here on Sunday night.

Ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo for trainer Heath Taylor, Jeriko (left) outdueled Ed and Von Zae McNelis’ Scoops Dynasty by a neck while posting the fastest qualifying time to the 400-yard Winter Championship final to be held on Sunday, February 18. In winning for the eighth time in 13 career starts, Jeriko covered the distance in :19.587 while once again displaying a potent finishing kick. The son of One Famous Eagle was fourth at the start before taking the lead at the midway point of the race and then flying to the wire for his third victory in his last four starts at Los Alamitos.

Jeriko will now look to become the first male Quarter Horse to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and the Winter Championship. However, he won’t be the first one to accomplish this double as two females beat him to it: AQHA champions Corona Kool and Matabari. Jeriko will also be one of four Grade 1 winners to face off in the Winter Championship in three weeks. He’ll be joined by the previously mentioned Scoops Dynasty, the winner of the 2022 Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and 2023 Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap; Take A Swig Of This, winner of last year’s Winter Derby; and London Toby, winner of the 2023 Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap.

One Grade 1 winner that raced in the trials but did not qualify to the final is the defending Winter Championship winner Apollitical Pence, who finished fifth in the first trial. The Dunn Ranch-owned and Monty Arrossa-trained 8-year-old gelding won the Winter Championship last year and was looking to become only the second horse to win consecutive runnings of this race. His chances to advance looked tremendous shortly after the start of his trial, as he flew out of the gate and then opened a daylight advantage. Then after passing the gap, Apollitical Pence lost his smooth stride as he jumped over what appeared to be hoofprints on the racetrack. Apollitical Pence eventually got back into his stride but by then he trailed the eventual winner Future Version and had to settle for fifth place.

Fortunately, the two-time Champion of Champions winner galloped back safely after the race and returned to the barn area in good form. Apollitical Pence had a similar occurrence in the Champion of Champions seven weeks ago after leading early. After the race, Arrossa provided some insight on what has occurred to Apollitical Pence in his recent races.

“He always breaks on his left lead but in his last two starts. this one and in the Champion of Champions, he’s left the gate on his right lead,” Arrossa said. “Then during the race he’s tried to switch to his left lead. He came back okay, and he looks fine, but it worried me. I think this might be it for him. He’s done so much in his career, and he doesn’t owe us anything.”

If this is Apollitical Pence’s final start, he’ll retired with a tremendous record of 20 wins from 41 starts and earnings of $1,867,319. In addition to being one of only five horse to win multiple runnings of the Champion of Champions, Apollitical Pence has won 10 other stakes races and is a multiple stakes winner at Los Alamitos, Remington Park, and Ruidoso Downs. He’s won four Grade 1 stakes races in his career,  

          While Apollitical Pence finished out of the money in the first trial, Rojas Racing and Juan H. Moya’s Future Version took the victory by a ½ length over newcomer Mr Racy Perry, owned by Christopher N. Roybal. Trained by Jose Flores and ridden by Cruz Mendez, Future Version was picking up his fifth win in 14 starts. The winner of the Governor’s Cup Derby last year, Future Version covered the distance in :20.005.

          Here’s the complete list of qualifiers to the Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship. Jeriko (:19.587), Scoops Dynasty (:19.621), London Toby (:19.648), Marcelo (:19.777), Mahomes Magic (:19.796), Take A Swig Of This (:19.872), Future Version (:20.005), Mr Racy Perry (:20.085), Hes Chickless (:20.095), and Nevada Charles (:20.212). 



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