In their first four runnings, the Quarter Horse Breeders Classics have helped determine two world champions and 23 age-group champions. This year’s seven-race series, patterned after the thoroughbred Breeders’ Cup, will be held Saturday at Los Alamitos and should be no exception.
The feature, the $125,000 Championship Classic, is expected to draw the leading candidates for World Champion in what has been a wide-open year. Only Apprehend has won two major stakes for older horses--the Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Championship in February and the Los Alamitos Championship on Oct. 19.
In the Los Alamitos Championship, he beat Special Leader, the All-American Gold Cup winner at Ruidoso, and Jazzing Hi, who had won the Vessels Maturity on Oct. 4. Both will be in Saturday’s Championship Classic, which will probably include See Me Do It, Tee Roy Reb, Royal Bushwhacker, Takin On The Cash, See Me Gone, Middock, Strawfly Special and Miss Racy Vike as well. The draw for Saturday’s program will be made Thursday.
Apprehend’s victory in the Los Alamitos Championship was at the expense of Special Leader and Jazzing Hi, who were third and fourth. Takin On The Cash, the 3-year-old, was second that night and may go in either the Championship Classic or the $35,000 Sprint Classic.
Daryn Charlton trains both Apprehend and Jazzing Hi.
“I’d like to have both barrels of the gun cocked, so if one doesn’t fire the other one will,” he said. “When Apprehend left the gates the way he did (in the Los Alamitos Championship), I knew he’d win. I don’t think there’s a horse that can beat him when he breaks that good.”
Owner Joe Kirk Fulton of Lubbock, Tex., is spending $20,000 to supplement Special Leader in the Championship Classic, and along with Jazzing Hi, is a leading contender for world champion and champion aged stallion. Fulton has indicated that Special Leader will be retired to stud after the season.
“I think Special Leader has two competitors (for champion aged stallion)--Jazzing Hi and Reckless Dash (another Fulton horse that will stay in the barn and point to the Dec. 21 Champion of Champions). We looked at it and decided if Jazzing Hi won this race and we didn’t run that, it wouldn’t help our chances any.”
Last year, Jazzing Hi was second in the Championship Classic, a nose behind Heisajoy, who has been shipped home to Louisiana and will not defend his title. Jazzing Hi was later named champion aged stallion for 1990 and could be the first horse since Duplicate Copy in 1967 to win consecutive titles.
Two previous world champions who raced on Breeders Classics Night--First Down Dash in 1987 and Dash For Speed in 1990--both ran in the Championship Classic. First Down Dash was a winner. Dash For Speed finished sixth but returned a month later and won the Champion of Champions.
The six other races Saturday include the $100,000 Juvenile Classic for 2-year-olds, the $35,000 Sprint Classic at 350 yards, the $35,000 Distaff Classic for fillies and mares, the $25,000 Sophomore Classic for 3-year-olds, which may be split into two divisions, the $25,000 Marathon Classic at 870 yards, and the $15,000
Because of the three-week reduction in the quarter horse meeting, several stakes have been dropped and the dates of six races have been advanced as much as three weeks. The quarter horse meeting was originally scheduled through Feb. 8, but will now end Jan. 18.
Four major stakes, including the Grade I Go Man Go Handicap, and nine minor stakes have been canceled. The other major cancellations are the $15,000 Katella Handicap, the $20,000 Ivan Ashment Handicap and the $25,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Directors’ Handicap.
Quarter horse promoters received approval from the California Horse Racing Board in October for three 1992 meetings, two at Los Alamitos and one at Hollywood Park, prompting the early cutoff of this meeting. Harness racing will resume at Los Alamitos on Jan. 24.
Three grade I races, originally slated for the first two weekends of February, have been moved to Jan. 17-18: the $75,000 Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Championship Invitational, cut from $100,000, to be run on Jan. 17; and the La Primera Del Ano and El Primero Del Ano Derbies on Jan. 18.