Final Challenge Tickets Punched in Arizona

Big upsets recorded in two of the three Challenge stakes at Turf Paradise.

October 20, 2013

Turf Paradise hosted the final three Bank of America Racing Challenge stakes on Sunday, and longshots prevailed in two of the events. The races awarded the last automatic berths for the Bank of America Challenge Championships to be held November 9 at Los Alamitos Race Course.

In the $70,110 Bank of America Turf Paradise Championship Challenge (G3), Gilberto Jasso’s Specials Gold scored by a nose at odds of 12-1. Piloted by Leonardo Gonzalez for trainer Ceasar Lopez, the gelding by Voghts Gold won in a time of :21.450 for 440 yards. In addition to a payday of $32,250, the Oklahoma-bred earned a berth in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1).

This marked the first career stakes win for Specials Gold after the 4-year-old gelding had come close on several occasions with a second in last year’s Altoona Derby (G3) at Prairie Meadows and seconds in this year’s Rukin Jelks Stakes at Rillito Park and Bob and Ben Stakes at Turf Paradise. His career record now stands at 22-4-6-4 with earnings of $97,782. Specials Gold was bred by A.C. Taylor.

Ramiro Najera-Barrios’ Valiant Valor, a stakes winner earlier in the year at Turf Paradise and a finalist in the Grade 1 West Texas and Ruidoso futurities in 2011, just missed the victory in second. Rancho Los Dos Potrillos LLC’s Testing The Ice, who was second in this year’s All American Gold Cup (G3) and fourth in last year’s All American Derby (G1), crossed the wire third as the odds-on favorite.

The $31,140 John Deere Turf Paradise Juvenile Challenge went to Don Quixote, the longest shot in the field at odds of 22-1. Owned by Gaston Valenzuela, trained by Priscilla Leon and ridden by Manuel Gutierrez, the Stel Corona gelding earned his first career victory and biggest paycheck by far at $14,324. The victory also secured him a berth in the $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2). Don Quixote prevailed by a neck with a :17.850 clocking at 350 yards.

Bred in California by Edward C. Allred, Don Quixote earned the ninth-fastest qualifying time with a fourth-place effort in his trial. Prior to that the gelding had run third against maiden foes at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Porfirio Carrasco’s homebred Tres Magicals, a Tres Seis filly who finished third in the Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile (R) and John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge in California, finished a game second. Tac A Hike, a gelding by Tac It Like A Man, took third for owner Alejandro Flores.

In the $21,420 Red Cell Turf Paradise Distance Challenge, A Mere Corona crossed the wire first but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference. That elevated Ned Ellsworth’s War Khal, the 9-5 second choice, to first and gave the Jess Louisiana Blue stallion his first stakes win in just his fifth career start. Ridden by Rodolfo Arvizu for trainer Dean Frey, War Khal earned $10,710 for the win and a spot in the $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1).

War Khal has finished off the board in two starts on the straightaway but has a record of 3-2-1-0 around the turn. His first two 870-yard starts came at Arapahoe Park, where he finished second and then first against maiden company.

Rey Moreno’s OSU Cowboy Attitude took second-place money with Las Vegas Ranch’s Jess Perfect Miracle in third.