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Favorite Cartel Prevails in Bank of America Challenge

California-bred breaks through with the biggest win of his career.

October 30, 2011

In the richest race of the night at Los Alamitos, Favorite Cartel came through to capture the $353,500 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) by a neck over favored Rylees Boy. The 4-year-old stallion by Favorite Trick (TB) battled for the lead throughout the 440-yard race before stopping the timer at :21.501 under jockey Ramon Sanchez.

“The outside horses got in a little bit of trouble but my horse had a clean break and no traffic,” said trainer Paul Jones, who also co-owns Favorite Cartel with R.D. Hubbard, Jim Helzer and Thompson Racing Inc. “He ran a beautiful race; this horse loves 440.”

Sent off as the 7-2 second choice, Favorite Cartel qualified to the race by winning the Bank of America Los Alamitos Championship Challenge (G2) in August. The California-bred has been a frequent Grade 1 competitor and qualified to the All American Futurity and Derby, Rainbow Futurity and Derby and Los Alamitos Super Derby, but this is his first Grade 1 victory. He improved his record to 23-9-2-4 with earnings of $583,069.

Favorite Cartel was bred by Jones and Terry Thompson’s Thompson Racing Inc. out of the winning Corona Cartel mare Shenoshercorona, who is also the dam of stakes winner Shescheckinumout and stakes-placed Hes Regal.

“We got so lucky,” said Thompson. “It was my first Grade 1 race and I had tears in my eyes. This is for my grandpa who died two weeks ago.”

The victory earned Favorite Cartel a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) on December 10 at Los Alamitos, and he'll have a new co-owner for that race.

“A deal has just been finalized in which Dr. Steve Burns has purchased 50 percent ownership of the horse from R.D. Hubbard and Jim Helzer,” said trainer Paul Jones after the race. “It’s a done deal and Dr. Burns now owns half of the horse, Thompson Racing owns 25 percent and I own 25 percent. Favorite Cartel will stand at Burns Ranch in 2012 and you can print that in big, bold headlines.”

Gerardo Ochoa-Pena’s Rylees Boy, the 6-5 favorite, closed strongly to finish second. The gelding by Heza Motor Scooter has hit the board in each of his last 24 starts, and his victories this year include the Bank of America Sunland Championship Challenge (G2) and Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1). The one-time $6,250 claimer has now banked nearly $680,000.

J K Running Horses LLC’s Jess A Runner, who had been racing in Iowa and Minnesota, closed to take third.

Kool Cade, Spit Curl Diva, Shining First Dash, Vodka With Ice, Acorn, Devon Dat Cash, What I Want and Stolis Winner completed the field.