LOS ALAMITOS : Apprehend and Refrigerator Head Field for Champion of Champions
Apprehend has done more than any other horse this year in California’s 440-yard stakes. He has won three major events, among them the Breeders Championship Classic, and along with Griswold, the 870-yard star, has been a major factor in trainer Daryn Charlton’s outstanding season.
Despite his three-for-three record in major stakes, however, Apprehend, a 4-year-old gelding, may not be the favorite in Saturday’s $250,000 Champion of Champions--the nation’s premier race for older quarter horses. The honor may go to Refrigerator, a 3-year-old gelding who won the 1990 All-American Futurity and has not run worse than second in 16 starts.
The two geldings, who have never met, will be joined by eight others.
To qualify for the Champion of Champions, a horse must win one of several prominent races to receive an automatic berth, or win a lesser stake, or place second or third in a major event, to earn a berth in the trials. This year, Apprehend won three of the major races that carry automatic berths. Six spots in the final were at stake in the trials Dec. 7 and Refrigerator, in his first race in three months, was the fastest qualifier, running the 440 yards in 21.50 seconds.
"(The layoff) was the best thing that could have happened,” said Blane Schvaneveldt, Refrigerator’s trainer who is seeking an unprecedented sixth Champion of Champions winner in Saturday’s 20th running. “He was training super. He would have disappointed me if he hadn’t run big. If everything goes well, he should be ready.”
Even though there are only two weeks remaining in the year, the World Champion title, quarter horse racing’s version of horse of the year, is still at large. Contenders include Corona Chick, the 2-year-old sensation; Apprehend and Refrigerator, who before the trials, won the Kansas Derby and was second in two other Ruidoso derbies. A victory Saturday could seal it for Apprehend or Refrigerator. Apprehend will be racing for the first time since the Nov. 9 Breeders Championship Classic.
"(Apprehend) runs good fresh,” said the 27-year-old Charlton. “The Fridge looks awful tough. The biggest thing that worries me is that he’s in Blane’s barn.”
Charlton will also saddle Jazzing Hi, the Vessels Maturity winner, in the Champion of Champions. Other include See Me Gone, Takin On The Cash, Isaws Sugar Bear, Special Leader, Reckless Dash, Frisco Flare, Tee Roy Reb and Racin Vike.
Friday’s $100,000 Marathon Invitational Handicap is shaping up as a rematch of last April’s exciting match race between Griswold and Valiant Pete at Santa Anita. Both are world record-holders at Los Alamitos.
Griswold, the 123-pound highweight, has run the four fastest 870-yard times in Los Alamitos history, including the world record of 43.99 seconds set last February. In his most recent start, a Nov. 30 allowance, Griswold won easily in 44.12 seconds without urging from Jockey Henry Garcia. It was the third-fastest 870-yard race in history.
Valiant Pete set a 4 1/2-furlong world record--49 1/5 seconds--winning the 1990 Mount Harvard Handicap at the Orange County Racing Fair at Los Alamitos, but has not raced there since. After his victory in last April’s match race, the 5-year-old thoroughbred was off until the Nov. 9 California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, where he led for five furlongs before finishing fifth.
Sadler breezed Valiant Pete two furlongs in 21 2/5 seconds Monday morning at Hollywood Park and shortly thereafter announced his intention to run at Los Alamitos.
The field, from the rail, includes Wings Of The Dove, Valiant Pete, Griswold, Sables Defender, Baychaino, Bailarin, Six Figures and Queen Auntie. Wings Of The Dove, Baychaino, Six Figures and Queen Auntie have won stakes at the current quarter horse meeting, and Bailarin and Sables Defender were 870-yard stakes winners at other tracks last summer.
Speedy Lunch, a winner of two stakes races at the Los Angeles county Fair last September, was listed 10th on the weighted list and drew into the also-eligibles but his chances of making the race are slim--two horses would have to scratch by Thursday morning--and his owners aren’t happy.
Pat Marckesano of Palos Verdes and Victor Rodas of Redondo Beach briefly considered legal action Tuesday morning after the draw but could find no precedent.
The Golden State Futurity on Dec. 29 is the last major race for 2-year-olds in the nation and is one of the country’s most prestigious quarter horse futurities. Five trials will be held tonight--races 5 through 9--to determine the 10 finalists. Even without Corona Chick, the nation’s leading 2-year-old, the 45 horses entered include some of the best on the grounds.
Two that finished behind Corona Chick in major futurities earlier this fall--Holland Ease and Dash Ta Fame--should be favored in their divisions. Holland Ease was second to Corona Chick in the Oct. 26 Kindergarten Futurity and third behind her in the Nov. 30 Dash For Cash Futurity. The First Down Dash colt has earned $177,007, the most of any of the trial entrants, for his owners, the Dutch Masters III syndicate. He drew the seventh post position in the fifth trial.
Dash Ta Fame has raced only three times but has made the most of his limited opportunities. He made his debut last May at a small track near Salt Lake City, running 300 yards in 15.26 seconds--the eighth-fastest clocking at that distance.
His two-length victory, however, took its toll. The First Down Dash colt went to the sidelines with an injury and didn’t return until the Dash for Cash Futurity trials in November, where he was third behind Corona Chick. He returned in the final on Nov. 30 and finished second, a length behind Corona Chick.
Dash Ta Fame is trained by Blane Schvaneveldt and is ridden by Henry Garcia, who also has the mount on Apprehend and Griswold.
Corona Chick reeled off eight consecutive victories at Los Alamitos this fall, including four stakes races. She set a 350-yard track record--17.22 seconds--on Oct. 16.
Los Alamitos Notes
There is a pick six carry-over of $20,114.14 going into tonight’s program. . . . Eddie Garcia leads the quarter horse jockeys with 101 victories through Sunday. Kip Didericksen, who leads the nation’s quarter horse riders in money winning, is second with 91. Blane Schvaneveldt is the leading trainer with 74 victories. Rodney Hart is second with 52.
Two-year-olds will also be on center stage Thursday night in two divisions of the Juvenile Stakes. Like the Golden State, the trials will be at 400 yards and will feature mostly horses not eligible for the Golden State Futurity, which had no supplemental nominations.
The American Quarter Horse Assn.'s Executive Committee has mandated blood-typing for quarter horse foals of 1992, who will be 2-year-olds in 1994. The blood-typing is also required of all sires and dams of 1992 foals, but their parentage will not have to be verified. The cost of blood-typing is $70 a horse, but sires and dams of 1992 foals will only need to be blood-typed once. The resulting foal will have to be blood-typed annually.