Heza Dasha Fire just one star in loaded Los Al In­vi­ta­tional

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mary Ram­pellini

Heza Dasha Fire will face an all-star cast Sun­day night when he at­tempts to win the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boni­face Los Alami­tos In­vi­ta­tional Cham­pi­onship for Quar­ter Horses for the third year in a row. Heza Dasha Fire is part of a field of 10 that in­cludes the last three win­ners of the Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons as well as Hold Air Hostage, the cham­pion 3-year-old of 2017.

The Los Alami­tos In­vi­ta­tional is a 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up. The win­ner will earn a berth in the track’s Grade 1, $600,000 Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons on Dec. 15.

Heza Dasha Fire won the Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons in 2015 and was sec­ond by a head in the 2016 run­ning and sec­ond by a half-length in 2017. He will break from the rail Sun­day while mak­ing his sec­ond start of the year, hav­ing won his 6-year-old de­but in the Spencer Childers Cal­i­for­nia Breed­ers Cham­pi­onship Hand­i­cap on July 28 at Los Alami­tos. He is owned by S-Quar­ter K and trained by Jose A. Flores.

Fol­low­ing the Spencer Childers Cal­i­for­nia Breed­ers Cham­pi­onship Hand­i­cap, he spent two weeks at San Luis Rey Downs as changes were made to his diet, Kathy Me­neely of S-Quar­ter K told pub­lic­ity at Los Alami­tos.

“Af­ter he ran sec­ond in the 2016 Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons, we found that he had an in­fec­tion that af­fects his kid­neys,” Me­neely said. “It’s some­thing that we keep track of, and af­ter the Spencer Childers, he had some num­bers that were el­e­vated. We took him off al­falfa and had to change his feed to lower his pro­tein in­take. Those things have helped, and he’s do­ing great, but he’s fac­ing a very strong field at 440 yards.”

Cruz Men­dez has the mount on Heza Dasha Fire, who was the world cham­pion Quar­ter Horse of 2015. Heza Dasha Fire would be­come the third horse to win the Los Alami­tos In­vi­ta­tional three times, join­ing Go Josie Go and Catch me in your dreams.

Zoomin for Spuds, who won the Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons in 2016 and was third in the race in 2017, is look­ing to re­bound Sun­day af­ter fin­ish­ing fourth in the Go Man Go Hand­i­cap on Sept. 2 at Los Alami­tos.

“He came up with an in­fec­tion af­ter the race,” trainer Monte Arossa told pub­lic­ity. “We treated it for 10 days, and he’s re­ally re­sponded nicely since then. He’s feel­ing and look­ing great.”

The third Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons win­ner in the field is Mr Pyc to You, who cap­tured the race last year at 60-1.

Hold Air Hostage is com­ing off a third-place fin­ish in the Go Man Go Hand­i­cap, while oth­ers in the field in­clude the win­ner of that race, Tarzan­ito, and Bo­da­cious Ea­gle, who in his last start ac­counted for the Grade 1 All Amer­i­can Gold Cup on Sept. 2 at Rui­doso Downs.

In all, the field Sun­day has com­bined to win 107 races – 25 of them Grade 1’s – and earn $7.9 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic­ity at Los Alami­tos.

Plans for Jessies First Down

Jessies First Down, the world cham­pion Quar­ter Horse of 2016 and 2017, is be­ing pointed for the Grade 1, $350,000 Cham­pi­onship at Sun­land Park on Dec. 30, ac­cord­ing to trainer Jimmy Pad­gett II. The horse has won three Grade 1 races in his three starts this year, his most re­cent The Downs at Al­bu­querque Fall Cham­pi­onship on Sept. 23.

“He came out of it won­der­fully,” Pad­gett said. “He’s do­ing great. He’s here with me at Lone Star.”

In each of the past two years Jessies First Down won the Grade 1, $150,000 Zia Park Cham­pi­onship be­fore run­ning in the Cham­pi­onship at Sun­land, but the Zia race was moved from Novem­ber to De­cem­ber this year, and the tight sched­ule will lead to the horse just tar­get­ing Sun­land, said Pad­gett.

GAY HAR­RIS/RUI­DOSO DOWNS

Jessies First Down, win­ning the All Amer­i­can Gold Cup, runs in the Cham­pi­onship at Sun­land.

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