Flame N Flash in Millie Vessels
Sophomore filly takes control in the Millie Vessels Handicap.
October 1, 2012
World Champion Cold Cash 123 and two-time Grade 1 winner El Aguila Real, two of the biggest superstars in the older Quarter Horse racing division, will have to make some room for a 3-year-old princess in this year’s field for the Champion of Champions (G1) after Robert Williams’ filly Flame N Flash defeated older mares to win the Grade 1 $150,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Sired by Walk Thru Fire and out of the great mare Oh La Proud, the Ed Allred-bred Flame N Flash led from start to finish in the 400-yard Millie Vessels while earning herself the automatic berth to the $750,000 Champion of Champions that goes along with this victory. Ridden by Francisco Rubio for trainer Juan Aleman, Flame N Flash beat Mauro Eli Zaborowsky’s Thisfeatureisspecial by a half-length while covering the distance in quick :19.54. A graduate of the 2010 Los Alamitos Equine Sale, Flame N Flash is now a two-time stakes winner this season. The sorrel filly also won the La Primera Del Ano Derby (G3) in her previous start going back to April 7.
“She did great in her first start back after a layoff,” said Aleman, who is now a four-time winner of the Millie Vessels. “We gave her some nice time off because otherwise I would have had to keep her in training from April until now. We thought it would be best to just let her be a horse for a little while. We skipped the trials to the Golden State Derby and instead we decided to focus in the trials to the Los Alamitos Super Derby (on October 14). This race wasn’t in our plans. We made the decision to run in the Millie Vessels only about 30 days ago. I thought this would be a good prep for the Super Derby trials, but she certainly made this a lot more than that.”
Facing nine aged mares, Flame N Flash looked in control of the race the entire way. Breaking from post nine at odds of nearly 7-1, Flame N Flash broke a length ahead of the field and she cruised from there to record her sixth win in 12 starts. She earned $75,000 for the win to take her lifetime earnings to $248,726. When Flame N Flash won the La Primera, Aleman noted that this would be a great shot in the arm for owner Robert Williams, who was dealing with health issues. This victory and the Champion of Champions berth will surely bring Williams a huge smile.
“His daughter, Cindy, was here as well as his ranch manager,” Aleman said. “They were telling me how excited he was going to be about this win. Our priority right now is the Super Derby. We’ll see how she does against some of the top 3-year-olds in the country and then we’ll think about the Champion of Champions. She’s also eligible to run in the Southern California Derby trials later in the year. She’s a filly facing the likes of Cold Cash 123, but it’s racing and anything can happen. I would hate to pass up a chance to run in the Champion of Champions because that kind of opportunity does not come along easily. I was hoping to maybe run for third with Flame N Flash because I thought I had a good chance to win with Fredaville, but she didn’t break like she did in her previous race.”
The sophomore filly would be facing great older horses in the Champion of Champions, but all Aleman needs to remember is the name of the Cash For Kas, who shocked the Quarter Horse racing world as a 3-year-old filly when she defeated a field that included world champion Be A Bono and multiple champion Catchmeinyourdreams in the 2004 Champion of Champions. Cash For Kas is one of seven 3-year-old fillies that have won the Champion of Champions.
“We’ll have to make a decision,” Aleman said. “There are some monsters in the Champion of Champions, but she ran a great race tonight.”
As for Fredaville, who finished third in the Mildred Vessels, she’ll now head to Iowa to compete in the Merial Distaff Challenge on October 27 before returning to California to compete in the Charger Bar Handicap in January 2013 according to the trainer.
The Paul Jones-trained Thisfeautureisspecial earned $25,500 for her runner-up effort with jockey Ramon Sanchez in the irons. The daughter of Feature Mr Jess could travel to Iowa to run on AQHA Bank of America Racing Challenge night according to her connections.
“I thought we had a good chance to win this race,” said Marco Zaborowsky, the son of owner Mauro Eli Zaborowsky. “I thought Flame N Flash would be one of the dangerous horses that we would have to deal with. I’ll talk to my dad and Paul to see what our mare will do next. We’ll have to decide this week. The Z. Wayne Griffins Directors Trials here are a possibility. I know that we would love to have a chance to run against Cold Cash 123 because that would mean that we are in the Champion of Champions.”
Robert Gentry’s Fredaville earned $15,000 for running third, while 2011 PCQHRA Breeders Derby winner Onemoreglassofwine earned $10,500 for finishing fourth. Enjoy The Walk, Royally Sandra, Flying Fig, Perrier Cartel, Classic Sassy Check and Azshecanfly completed the field.
The Bank of America Challenge Championship, the Refrigerator Handicap, the Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, the Los Alamitos Super Derby and the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials (the fastest qualifier) are the five remaining races carrying an automatic starting berth to the Champion of Champions. The final two Champion of Champions berth will go to the second and third fastest qualifiers to the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials. The Champion of Champions will be contested on Saturday, December 15 at 440 yards.
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