The AQHA office is closed Thursday, December 25, Friday, December 26, and Thursday, January 1.

Fols Jess Wins Anaheim Handicap

Gelding gets back on track after nearly seven-month break.

January 4, 2014

Back in action for the first time since the middle of June, Mesa Valley Farms LLC’s Fols Jesse delivered the kind of performance that his connections are accustomed to seeing from the 5-year-old gelding by Jesse James Jr.

With Cody Jensen aboard for trainer Mark Skeen, Fols Jesse broke sharply from post number three before outdueling multiple stakes winner High School Secrets by a neck in the $16,000 Anaheim Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward on Friday at Los Alamitos. The effort was a big turnaround from Fols Jesse’s final start of 2013, a forgettable eighth place finish in a trial to the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity on June 16.

“He grabbed a quarter pretty hard in the second jump of that race,” said Holly Skeen, the trainer’s wife and assistant trainer. “That’s why he didn’t run like he usually does.”

Fols Jesse’s out of the money finish in that outing was only his second such result in 14 career starts. The gelding did not run again last year, but he returned fresh and ready to fire in the Anaheim at 300 yards.

“The quarter was not the reason why we decided to turn him out,” Holly added. “The main reason was that we needed to give him a break. He had been going for a while and the best thing for the horse was to give him a break. We want to keep running him for a long time so giving him some time off at the ranch so that he could just be a horse was great for him. He always gives you 100% so we were surprised when he didn’t run well in the Vessels trial.”

Fols Jesse ran great in the Anaheim, as he covered the distance a swift :15.403 on the way to earning $8,800. The winner of the 2012 Kip Didericksen Handicap and 2013 Cypress Handicap, the homebred runner has now earned $77,350 in his 15 career outings. This was his sixth career victory.

“It’s fun to run him in these types of handicaps,” she added. “He’s fresh and feeling good.”

James Azevedo and Boyles Family Trust’s High School Secrets earned $3,600 for finishing second. The son of No Secrets Here won the James Smith Memorial Handicap and Dillingham Handicap last year and also ran second in the Vandy’s Flash Handicap. He has finished in the top two in eight of 16 career starts. Lucky Seven Ranch’s Amore La Blue flew out of the gate and finished a game third against male rivals. Fire Bye, Betty Gun and Tac Out completed the field.