LARC NEWS Posted: 3/4/2024 12:01:22 AM


         Keith Nellesen’s Political Rivalry, the 2023 PCQHRA champion 2-year-old gelding, enjoyed a winning sophomore debut on the way to posting the fastest qualifying time to the $204,200 El Primero Del Año Derby on Sunday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Jose Nicasio for trainer Heath Taylor, Political Rivalry broke in from post number one but looked stronger with every stride, pulling away from his rivals in the final 100 yards to post an easy 1 ½ length win in the top qualifying time of :19.853 at 400 yards.  

A multiple stakes winner during his juvenile campaign, Political Rivalry (left) was picking up his seventh win in eight career starts, while beginning what his connections hope will be another win streak. Last year, the gelding by KVN Corona won the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity and the Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and won his first six career starts. His good fortune came to a halt in the trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity after enduring a troubled start that kept him from advancing to the final.

Fortunately for his connections, his sophomore debut was a more familiar effort for the Utah-bred, as he was fast right from the start in route to a gate-to-wire victory in the second of three trials. The victory was the latest triumph for Nicasio and Taylor when they’ve teamed up here this season. The jockey/trainer combination has now won five races from their eight starts as a team for an impressive win ratio of 60%. The Grade 2 El Primero final will be held here on Sunday, March 24.

Bred by McColee Land & Livestock, Political Rivalry will now try to complete a trifecta of stakes victories that would help him match his champion sire’s accomplishments. Political Rivalry has already duplicated KVN Corona’s victories in the Ed Burke and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, and the superstar sophomore can now make it like father, like son in the El Primero as well.

Owned by Nellesen, KVN Corona won the El Primero in 2018, which was his biggest win during his championship sophomore campaign. The AQHA champion colt both as a 2-year-old and as a 3-year-old, KVN Corona also had a penchant for winning, as he scored in 10 of his 13 career starts including in his first nine starts.

Dunn Ranch LLC’s SC Time To Run was outstanding in the third trial of the night, winning by 1 ¼ lengths while posting the second fastest time of :19.881. Sired by Apollitical Jess and out of the champion mare Spit Curl Dival, the Oklahoma-bred gelding was picking up his second straight victory, this one being his best effort yet, as he broke sharply from gate three and was never challenged from there. Eduardo Nicasio piloted the Monty Arrossa-trainee, who was second in the $50,000 Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational three races ago.

The opening trial went to Jorge Carmona’s Five Bar Supreme, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and winner of the Wild West Futurity. Named the Intermountain Horse of the Year at Los Alamitos last year, Five Bar Supreme dueled every step of the way with Kickin Famous in their 400-yard trial, eventually winning the race by a nose while posting the third fastest qualifying time of :19.967. Owned by Jose Flores, Robyn Gordon and Ricardo Rodriguez, Kickin Famous had the fourth fastest clocking of :19.973.

The complete list of qualifiers to the El Primero is as follows: Political Rivalry (:19.853), SC Time To Run (:19.881), Five Bar Supreme (:19.967), Kickin Famous (:19.973), Xpensive (:20.050), AJ Top Secret (:20.060), Kevins Wise Corona (:20.061),  Boardwalk (:20.117), Remember John (:20.129), and Favorite Nuke (:20.135).


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