Secretly Hot Shines on Cal. Champions Night

State-breds shine on California Champions Night at Los Alamitos.

July 29, 2012

Gildardo Garcia’s Secretly Hot won the richest race on the California Breeders’ Champions Night program after edging Double Bar S Ranch’s Beg Stel Or Borrow by a nose in the $375,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Rodrigo Aceves for trainer Francisco Ramirez, Secretly Hot was powerful in the end as she rallied from third to win the 350-yard race in a time of :17.527. The Walk Thru Fire filly earned her owner a first-place check of $157,500 – a great return on Garcia’s $30,000 purchase at last year’s Los Alamitos Equine Sale.

“I bought her at the sale right there,” said Garcia in the winner’s circle while pointing in the direction of the grounds of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. “She’s the first racehorse I’ve ever owned.”

Garcia, of Downey, California, operates the La Barca Restaurant, a chain of five dining establishments in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

“I have Andalucian horses and I love Quarter Horses,” Garcia said. “I decided that I wanted to have a racing Quarter Horse. I plan to go to the Los Alamitos Equine Sale again and hopefully find another horse.”

Garcia found a gem in Secretly Hot, a little bay filly out of the Raise A Secret mare Secret Reflection. In addition to Secretly Hot, Secret Reflection is also the dam of On Reflection, a winner of nearly $150,000 and the Jazzing Hi Handicap. On Reflection also ran second in the Go Man Go Handicap (G1) and third in the Vessels Maturity (G1) and Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials (G3).

“I was pretty confident coming into this race because we knew that she has a big heart,” Garcia said. “We knew her recuperation from the trials has been good and we knew that she was ready for this race.”

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Secretly Hot has now won three of four career starts.

“She’s extremely healthy and that makes training her very easy,” trainer Francisco Ramirez said.

Secretly Hot is one of six Ed Allred-bred horses that won on Champions Night. Allred also picked up wins on Champions Night with Working Girl ($5,000 Sophomore Claiming Stakes), Eskimiss ($5,000 Senior Claiming Stakes), Buy Buy (Freshman Fillies Stakes), Kool Million (Jens List Memorial Stakes), and Twelve Stepper (Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship).

Trained by Joe Bassett, Beg Stel Or Borrow earned $63,750 for running second. The Allred-bred Remembering Spence earned $45,000 for running third for owner Francisco Guzman. Don Loncho, Clever Me, La Gata Negra, Henosherscret, I Go Out Walkin, Swindler and Docs All Heart completed the field.

As great as Billy Smith and Pat Guthrie’s Terrific Synergy was in winning his Governor’s Cup Derby (RG2) trial in the fastest qualifying time of the night, the son of FDD Dynasty was just as sharp in winning the $222,500 final by 1 ¾ lengths over 2011 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) winner Ima Chickie Two.

It was a breakthrough performance for Terrific Synergy, who was the only horse last year to qualify to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million, Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurities. His best finish in those races was a fourth in the Ed Burke. Making his first stakes start as a 3-year-old, Terrific Synergy was outstanding, as he covered the 400 yards in :19.489 under the guidance of jockey G.R. Carter.

“This horse battled through a few injuries last year and he was a little immature,” trainer Cody Joiner said. “This year he is 100% sound and things are completely different with him. There are no little injuries to worry us. He would often get a little apprehensive in the starting gate last year because he was worried that he would get bumped around. Now that he’s healthy he has a completely new confidence. His mind has also developed and he’s a more mature and stronger horse.”

Smith and Guthrie were all smiles in the winner’s circle celebrating the victory by the son of FDD Dynasty.

“We raced FDD Dynasty (in partnership with Vessels Stallion Farm) so that makes this so much more exciting and gratifying,” Guthrie explained. “When his dad went to stud he went with high expectations and because of those expectations (his sons and daughters) have to bring it. This is a nice race for Terrific Synergy and also for FDD Dynasty. Terrific Synergy had a suspensory problem as a 2-year-old. After the Los Alamitos Two Million he had some time off and it helped him a great deal. He’s more mature in mind and in body.”

“I am tickled,” Smith added. “For me this feeling is more exciting than when FDD Dynasty won some of his races and I think the reason is because we had his daddy. Kash Vessels is here tonight and so is Bill Thead of Vessels Stallion Farm. To have them both here is also special for us. We are looking forward to a fun year with Terrific Synergy. When I think of him I start to dream big and I think that’s okay. You can dream. I think that’s why we as owners do this.”

G.R. Carter knew that the race was his less than 10 seconds in to the race.

“He was really excited during the warm ups,” Carter said. “I warmed him up long and slow. Then he broke really well for him and we were only half a side away from the leaders. At 75 yards we were even and then he just started pulling away. There’s nothing more exciting than when you run away from other horses. That’s what Terrific Synergy was doing after about 100 yards. He was running away from them. I wish everyone could experience that feeling because it’s great.”

“When he broke like he did I started saying ‘We got it! We got it!’” Guthrie added.

Terrific Synergy will now follow on his daddy’s path. Back in 2007, FDD Dynasty won the Governor’s Cup Derby and then made his next start against older horses in the Go Man Go Handicap. FDD Dynasty won the Go Man Go, earning a spot in that year’s Champion of Champions (G1). Terrific Synergy will now attempt to do the same. The plans are for him to face older foes in the Go Man Go – a race that now carries a starting berth to this year’s Champion of Champions.

“That path worked for FDD Dynasty so we’ll try it with Terrific Synergy,” Smith said.

Terrific Synergy, now a winner of six of nine starts, earned $91,350 to take his career earnings to $282,616. S-Quarter K LLC’s Ima Chickie Two earned $36,975 for finishing second. Berenisse and Marlyn Gonzalez’s Kindly Fellow picked up $26,100 for running third. Pony Drive, Eye For FDD, New Look, Sompin About First, Chicks Boudro and Shes Prime Time completed the field.

Juan Humberto Moya’s Twelve Stepper began the year with a victory against $12,500 claimers on January 21. Just over six months later and the Ed Allred-bred gelding by Walk Thru Fire defeated a solid field of runners in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders’ Championship Handicap (RG1).

Twelve Stepper has now won five of seven starts in 2012 while enjoying a meteoric rise in racing ranks. His wins have come in the $12,500, $20,000 and $30,000 claiming levels before defeating Kaweah Bar Handicap (G3) winner Creston Goer by a nose in the Spencer Childers. Trained by Arnoldo Pulido and ridden by Gregorio Arriaga, Twelve Stepper posted a winning time of :19.687 in the 400-yard race.

“This is great fun because this is my first major stakes win,” said Moya, who runs a citrus farm in Sanger, California, and also a trucking company. “I bought Twelve Stepper privately as a 2-year-old and it brings me great satisfaction to see what he has become. I’ve been racing horses at Los Alamitos for about five years now. It’s great to be standing here after a nice race like the Spencer Childers.”

Twelve Stepper’s jockey and trainer are newcomers to Los Alamitos. Arriaga has been riding at the Orange County oval for about a year, while Pulido earned his trainer license at the beginning of the year.

“I helped my brother Ramon Pulido train his horses for about four to five years,” Pulido explained. “He runs quite a few horses in the racing fairs. I’ve known Humberto for a couple of years and he asked me to train his racehorses at his ranch in Sanger. I would train the horses and then we would ship them to Los Alamitos. We had good success. My boss encouraged me to make my own name as trainer at Los Alamitos and I thought it was great opportunity. I have about 18 horses in the barn right now. I am thrilled with Twelve Stepper. He ran a gutsy race to hold off Creston Goer, who we knew would be a tough competitor.”

Twelve Stepper earned $50,000 for the win. Salvador Veliz’s Creston Goer earned $16,000 while third-place finisher Shining First Dash pocketed $10,000 for running third. De Moss, Precisionist RM, Frosty Younger, Walkin Bac, Buying Snow, Flaming Out and Hot Hitter completed the field.


Dr. Steve Burns’ Enjoy The Walk won at 10-1 odds the $50,000 Matron Stakes (RG3) for 3-year-olds and upward fillies and mares. Leaving the gate from the inside post, Enjoy The Walk covered the 400 yards in :19.970 to beat Sheza Shy Shahayla by a half-length length.

“We got an embryo out of her by One Sweet Jess this year and I’d like to think that that helped her win this race,” said Dr. Burns with a smile. “She was one of the fastest qualifiers to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Derby last year so she does have the ability.”

Enjoy The Walk has now won three of 15 career starts. The daughter of Walk Thru Fire earned $26,317.


Ron Hartley and John Cooper’s Ronsepi outdueled Cash Him Out by a neck to win the $25,000 Sprint Stakes (R) in a time of :17.667 at 400 yards.

“All the credit in the world for this horse goes to trainer John Cooper,” Hartley said. “This horse had an injury and John rested him for a year and a half. He’s been pretty good since he’s come back this year. He’s now won four of seven starts. I still have Ronsepi’s mother, Rondini, and this year we bred her to Walk Thru Fire and we have a 2-year-old out of her that worked on Saturday morning sired by Separatist.”

Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Ronsepi earned $13,750 for the win.


Ed Allred’s Kool Million won his third notable race of the 2012 campaign in style after defeating One Famous Ferragamo by 1 ¼ lengths in the $25,000 Jens List Memorial Stakes (R) at 400 yards.

Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Kool Million had previously won the $151,750 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes and the $25,000 Dillingham Handicap. He came into the Jens List after running second to A Mere Dynasty in the $25,000 Vandy’s Flash Handicap.

“He fell short last time out, but he was facing a pretty tough horse and he was also going 400 yards after a minor layoff,” said trainer Jose Flores. “This was his second start at 400 yards after the mini break and he was tough.

“I am so happy that Dr. Allred decided to supplement him to the Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1),” Flores added. “I think he deserves a chance to show what he can do in that race.”

Flores knows that Kool Million needs to continue to improve in the months ahead of the trials to the Super Derby.

“He was a little agitated in the starting gate tonight,” he added. “We’ll have to work with him to helping be a calmer in there. He never runs a super-fast time, but he is always consistent. He always gets the job done.”

Kool Million, who covered the distance in :19.89, earned $13,750 for his victory. Deleyco race Team Corp’s One Famous Ferragamo earned $5,625. Tac Of The Town, Bar Closer, Ivlis and Mister Michael completed the field.


Ten stallions sired at least one winner during the 13-race Champions Night program. Walk Thru Fire led the Champions Night winning sires with three winners. A Regal Choice, Snowbound, Stel Corona, Separatist, Bail Me Out Baby, Bono Jazz, Senor Solo, Check Him Out, Royaltys Choice and FDD Dynasty each sired one winner...The Freshman Stakes (R) for fillies went to Kolleen Ledgerwood’s Buy Buy, who was ridden by Eddie Garcia, the track’s all-time leading jockey in stakes wins and Quarter Horse wins. “I just want to make it tough for the young jockeys to beat my record,” Garcia said...The Freshman Stakes (R) went to Rosario Jimenez’s Kindergaten Futurity (G2) finalist Mama Mia Bella, who edged Los Alamitos Claiming Stakes finalist Bullet In The Gun by a nose...EG High Desert Farms’ Letty Bail Regis Out, sired by Bail Me Out Baby, won the Debutante Stakes (R) by a half-length over Tac It To Heart. Tac Out ran third…Champions Night also featured four claiming stakes races. The sophomore divisional claiming stakes went to Working Girl and Venado Love, while the claiming stakes for older horses went to Eskimiss and JDF Check...Attendance was up 30% for the 2012 Champions Night. The total handle of $1,969,284 was a season high mark at Los Alamitos.