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January 9, 2012
Joe “Bear” Bassett earned his nickname when he was only a year old. The story goes that when baby Bassett would wake up for feeding time, his food had to be hot and ready or he would turn into an angry “bear.”
“And if my mom would stop giving me scoop after scoop of food for even one second, I would get extremely upset,” said the 28-year-old. “I was so bad that my dad started calling me ‘Bear’ and it stuck. All these years later and people still call me by that name.”
Bassett, a two-time winner of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1), has embraced it to the point that his training stable goes by the moniker of Bear Dog Racing. The best part of it all now is that Bassett is gobbling up stakes victories at Los Alamitos Race Course in the same way that he used to put away his food as a toddler.
Bassett’s latest stakes winner is Johnny Trotter’s Dash Back Perry, a 4-year-old mare that had little trouble scoring a three-quarter length victory in the Grade 2, $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap on Sunday night. Ridden by Saul Ramirez Jr., Dash Back Perry had previously won the Las Damas Handicap (G3) for Trotter and Bassett by a half-length on November 26. In between those two stakes wins, Bassett also saddled I Like The Odds to victory in the track’s richest race ever, the $2,236,300 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on December 11.
Bassett had a cold streak during the first 10 months of 2011, but his recent exploits with the Trotter-bred Dash Back Perry and I Like The Odds have made him one of the hottest trainers at Los Alamitos. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.
“Everything has come together,” Bassett said. “Dash Back Perry runs with her head to the ground and the farther she runs the lower her head gets. That’s just her racing style. I think this is a more impressive win (by Dash Back Perry) because there were four or five mares that were not in the Las Damas that were in this race that are simply fantastic mares. (Champion of Champions finalist) Fovee and a couple of the others are outstanding mares and Dash Back Perry won this race just as easy as when she won the Las Damas.”
“She broke on top,” said Ramirez Jr. “She started fine and was on top and never looked back. She did win easier than last time. I’m very happy for Joe. It’s a great way to start the year.”
Ramirez Jr. took a flight to Los Alamitos that landed at noon at John Wayne Airport. After helping Dash Back Perry earn $50,000 for the win, the jockey will fly back home to Elgin, Texas, on Monday morning.
“I’m staying busy in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico,” he said. “We’re breaking babies right now. I think I might be back for the Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials and then in the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes Trials to ride for Joe.”
Wins like the Two Million and the Charger Bar have made things a lot easier financially for Bassett.
“It’s taken some pressure off,” he said. “Of course, I’d like to get more horses in the barn right now.”
The Bear Dog stable is currently home to five runners, including Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) third-place finisher Oceanik, who will race in the aforementioned Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes trials on Saturday, February 4.
Dash Back Perry, who covered 400 yards in :19.676 as the 5-2 favorite, improved her record to four wins in 19 starts. A multiple stakes finalist and an eighth-place finisher in last year’s Charger Bar (then G1), Dash Back Perry has finished third or better in 13 career starts. Her lifetime earnings now stand at $212,039.
Mimi Wells’ Getit Together earned $17,000 for finishing second in the Charger Bar. Trained by Dan Francisco, Getit Together also ran second in the Las Damas and won the AQHA Members Plus Stakes over distaffers on October 29. She ran in last year’s La Primera Del Ano Derby (G2). Robert Gentry’s Fredaville finished third and earned $10,000. Azshecanfly, KR Dragonfly, Onemoreglassofwine, Enjoy The Walk, Chalala, Sheza Bad Habit and Fovee completed the field.
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