Gianni Samaja


            Vince Genco and owner Gianni Samaja could have something special on their hands with Fantastic Corona Jr, a regally-bred colt who debuted impressively in last Thursday's fourth race at Los Alamitos.  Breaking from post six in the 300-yard contest for maiden two-year-olds, Fantastic Corona Jr broke on top and stayed there en route to a length and a half score over seven rivals in the race.  His final time of 15.474 seconds was good enough for an 88-speed index and was even more impressive if you factor in the six mile-an-hour headwind that the race was run in. 


            "I haven't actually seen the race yet," said bloodstock agent Vince Genco, who was out of town in Brazil when the race was run.  "My wife taped the race for me though and I can't wait to watch it and see how he ran.  From what I understand he galloped out strongly and kept going well into the turn."


            Prior to his first start, Fantastic Corona Jr had already wowed the morning clocker and railbirds alike with two strong 220-yard drills in 12.10 and 12.0 seconds.  "Well I guess he lived up to all of the hype," Genco added.  "I knew it was a good sign when he worked so well because rarely will Paul Jones ask his horses to run really fast in the mornings.  Knowing that, I felt like the fact that he had went so quickly was a good indication of his talent." 


            Fantastic Corona Jr is a two-year-old colt by leading sire Corona Cartel out of the Strawfly Special mare Special Queen Sa.  "We were really excited to finally get to see this horse run," said Genco.  "He's out of one of our blue hen mares and we always felt like he would develop into a nice runner.  In fact, that's where he got his name.  We bred the horse here at our ranch and Gianni Samaja always told me what a fantastic colt he thought he was.  So I suggested that we name him that and so we did." 


            His mother Special Queen Sa racked up six lifetime wins and retired with $229,720 in earnings.  Additionally, she ran second in the 2002 running of the Grade I Ed Burke Memorial Futurity, a race that the connections have their eye on with Fantastic Corona Jr this year.  "If all goes well his next start will be in the trials to the Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 7th," Vince added.  "He's shown a lot of potential all along and we were really thrilled to see him run so well in his first race.  I think he's got a great chance on trial night." 


Genco also acts as an agent for Benny Rosset, who owns the highly touted juvenile Balboa Bay.  From the barn of trainer Dan Francisco, Balboa Bay won at first asking on May 18th and is being pointed to the Ed Burke Million trials as well.  A nicely-bred colt by Corona Cartel, Balboa Bay is out of the First Down Dash mare Strawberry Dash, a full-sister to the stallion Stoli. 




            Vince Genco also had some interesting comments on the state of quarter horse racing in Brazil.  "I just flew in from Brazil only a few hours ago," said Genco.  "This weekend they ran a three race series there, the biggest of which is called the Megarace.  It's a race for two-year-olds with a purse of $800,000 reias (the Brazilian dollar), which is equivalent to roughly $500,000 American dollars.  The really astonishing thing about the racing there is that these two-year-olds ran in the trials to the Megarace on Saturday and returned in the finals the following day on Sunday.  It's a whole different world out there."


            Owner Gianni Samaja also held a horse sale there recently where 55 yearlings were sold.  "The most popular sire there was Corona For Me," added Genco.  "They averaged $35,000 U.S. dollars and the sale topper was actually a filly by Corona For Me out of a Merridoc mare named Merritara Sa.  She brought $223,000."


            Merritara Sa is the mother of two different Brazilian-breds who enjoyed success racing here in Southern California.  The first of which is Aladim Bryan Sa, a three-time stakes winner at Los Alamitos and the current track record-holder at 550 yards.  Most recently, Genco and Samaja brought over a full-brother to Aladim Bryan Sa named Brando Bryan, who won the South American division of the Bank Of America Challenge and qualified to the Bank Of America Challenge Championship in November of last year.  Brando Bryan accounted for himself quite well that night, leading at the first call in the race and finishing a respectable fifth behind 2006 AQHA Champion Three-year-old Gelding Strawkins.