Fifty four horses are entered for the seven Quarter Horse Breeders Classics Championship races Friday night at Los Alamitos, and none is more admired by his handlers than Dash for Speed.
“If she had two legs instead of four, I’d ask her to marry me,” said Larry Keiter, who trains the 3-year-old filly.
Fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from both ankles at the end of her 2-year-old season, Dash for Speed has won all six of her races this year. Her last victory, on Aug. 28, made Dash for Speed only the second horse in history to sweep the Kansas, Rainbow and All American derbies at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico.
This is easily the best horse Keiter has ever trained and the best ever ridden by Steve Fuller, who has been aboard for all of her victories this year.
Still, Dash for Speed isn’t even assured of being the favorite Friday night in the Championship, which will be the richest of the 7 classics, with 6 horses running 440 yards for $129,500 in purse money.
The public may favor Florentine, who ran fifth in the Classic last year, then reeled off 4 straight victories this year before Shawnes Favorite, a 10-1 surprise, nipped her at the wire of the Los Alamitos Championship Sept. 10.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got them all to beat,” Keiter said.
All, in this case, means five opponents. The field, in post-position order, consists of Zure Hope Again, with Kip Didericksen riding; Sompinlikaglass, John Craeger; Florentine, Kenny Hart; Meddlin Dash, Larry Layton; Strictly Wicked, Alex Baldillez; and Dash for Speed, Fuller. Meddlin Dash and Strictly Wicked will be coupled in the betting.
Dash for Speed and Florentine are both candidates for the world championship, quarter horse racing’s equivalent of horse of the year. Both were sired by Dash for Cash, a 2-time world champion.
“This filly’s already a world champion to us,” said Fuller, whose mounts have earned more than $700,000 this year, about $500,000 of it with Dash for Speed.
“She does everything perfect. She doesn’t make any mistakes. She’s the most consistent horse I’ve ever ridden.”
Dash for Speed, a robust filly who will outweigh some of her male opponents Friday night, hasn’t lost since she was beaten in the All American Futurity Trials at Ruidoso last August. She had won four of six starts before that, but suffered the injury to her right ankle in the trials. Her other ankle had been injured in her first start. Last year’s classics, also at Los Alamitos, were under consideration before the surgery was required.
Dash for Speed will remain in California for the Champion of Champions later in the Los Alamitos season.
“It would be an honor to win the world championship with this filly,” Keiter said. “But despite what she did at Ruidoso, we know she’ll have to perform well in California.”
Friday’s race will be the first under the lights for Dash for Speed. She arrived here from New Mexico about 3 weeks ago, and Fuller has been galloping her at night to acclimate her to the conditions. At 440 yards, there’s not much time for a horse to blink, anyway.
Here are the fields, in post-position order, for Friday night’s other races:
Sophomore, 400 yards, $35,700--Special Shake, Sail On Super, Calling for Cash, Easygo Effort, Betty Loop, Hesaspecialty, Shawne Music Man.
Distaff, 400 yards, $41,300--Wicked Dash, Charmin Too, Perfect Arrangement, Bedinette, Passem Dirty, Brace Your Glass, Azures Cash.
Marathon, 870 yards, $52,150--Im a Sweet First, What Lucks Gay Chick, Naturally Ours, Truly a Pleasure, Silly Doc.
Sprint, 350 yards, $58,500--Camptown Dash, Blushing Bug, Dash S Diamond, Crasher, Runaway Winner, Chingaderos.
Juvenile, 400 yards, $118,750--Hector Jones, Especially Angelic, Sky Fire, Rambac, Packin Sixes, Special Perks, Casadybrookhill, Truck On Easy, Dashing Strong, Game Sissy. Also eligible--Streakin Josh.
Freshman, 350 yards, $33,000--Zoro Jct, Zip Into Cash, Beat Your Pants Off, Royal Beduino, Tee Roy Reb, Surf for Cash, Tolsann, Mimis Cash, Elite Empress, Sweet Six Chick. Also eligible--Beduino Dancer, Royal Generation.