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Press ReleaseJuly 7, 2014
Good things seem to happen whenever the Wells family and Vessels family work together.
“My dad worked with Kash Vessels’ great grandfather, Frank Vessels Sr., in the oil fields before this became a racetrack,” said retired horse trainer John Wells. “Once they built the track here, my dad, who eventually became the state racing commissioner in Nevada, would bring horses from Nevada to race in these four-day meets that Vessels Sr. had in the early days of Los Alamitos.”
More than 60 years later and it’s now Wells who is teaming up with Vessels Stallion Farm thanks to a tremendous sophomore named Far Niente. The gray gelding demonstrated his power on Sunday night, as he held off Jess Being Valiant by three-quarters of a length to win the Grade 1, $163,300 Vessels Maturity at Los Alamitos. The Vessels Maturity is named after the founding family of Los Alamitos Race Course and it provides the winner a berth to the Champion of Champions. Far Niente punched his ticket to the Champion of Champions after covering the 400-yard dash in a rapid time of :19.517.
Ridden by Saul Ramirez for trainer Jose Hernandez, Far Niente’s comfortable win means that he joins Nellie Delaney and Bon Accord as the first three runners with automatic berths to the Champion of Champions. The stallion FDD Dynasty, who ran in the Champion of Champions in 2007, is the sire of both Far Niente and also Nellie Delaney. Far Niente runs for Atwood Ranches Inc. and Vessels Stallion Farm LLC.
For John Wells, who manages Atwood’s racing operation, the win was as good as it gets.
“My dad worked with Frank Vessels, and I won my first ever Quarter Horse race here 50 years ago. To now win a race named after the Vessels family, and to do it in partnership with Vessels Stallion Farm is a great honor.
“Far Niente is the best horse I’ve ever touched,” Wells added. “What a ride, what a ride this horse has taken us. The Champion of Champions is a huge thing. I am so grateful to the Vessels family for allowing (trainer) Jose Hernandez and me the freedom to handle this horse the best way that we can. I talk to Jose on the phone 3-4 times a day about this horse. We know everything about him and we knew that he was going to do well.”
Far Niente improved his record to nine wins in 13 starts and his career earnings are now $331,125.
“What a thrill,” added Kash Vessels, who is also part of the syndicate that stands FDD Dynasty. “We sold his book out for 2014. A few years ago, FDD Dynasty was starting to flounder a little bit because he was at an age where other hot, new stallions come up. He needed a fast baby or something to get some attention. FDD Dynasty’ is doing well so we’re pleased about that. As for Far Niente, we’ve been smart enough to stay out of John and Jose’s way. We let them make the decisions and the plans for this horse.”
“This horse runs well fresh,” Wells said. “I’m so grateful that Vessels let us take it easy with this horse. That really helped.”
Jockey Saul Ramirez had things under control during the running of the race.
“He came out of the gate okay and got bumped a little bit. That didn’t hurt him. He opened up at the end and that was the race. When he left the gate the way he did tonight, I knew I had a chance to win the race,” the jockey said.
Ramirez is often referred by trainers around Los Alamitos as a “big race” and “big money” rider. Ramirez smiles at the thought, but he once again proved it as true with ride aboard Far Niente.
“I am thankful that people see me in that way,” he said. “I guess it comes down to experience. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’m very thankful that the owners of this horse gave me the opportunity.”
Ridden by Raul Valenzuela for owner Howard Nichols, Jess Being Valiant earned $27,761 for running second.
“We stumbled out of the gate,” Nichols said. “But we got outrun. I am not sure if we can beat Far Niente. We’ve faced him three times and have finished second every time.”
Ed Allred’s Once Over finished third and earned $19,596. Rodrigo Aceves piloted the Scott Willoughby-trained multiple stakes winner. World champion Last To Fire was bumped on both sides and had to settle for finishing eighth. Far Niente earned $68,586 for the win to take his career bankroll to $330,725, while improving to nine wins in 13 outings. The complete order of finish is as follows: Far Niente, Jess Being Valiant, Once Over, Separate Interest, Jess Featureme Quick, Significant Heart, Creole Williams, Last To Fire, Tres Coronas Mas, Time For A Royal Dip.
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