Best By Far in HRC’s First Stakes Race of 2015

Best By Far (BBF) goes for three wins in a row and a shot at minor stakes credentials this Sunday at Los Alamitos (8th race, Calyx Overnight Handicap, $15,000 purse). This is an 870 yard affair (almost 4 Furlongs) with both genders and breed (TB and QH). This mare by Tribal Rule out of a stakes placed In Excess mare has become one of the most exciting HRC affiliated horses of 2015. BBF has come back from her injury better than ever with new connections (now trained by Tom Bazley) and with new life in these shortened sprints.
After breaking her maiden in a debut romp by five and a half lengths, BBF had some troubled trips, and we claimed her Nov. 28th, 2013 at GG. Moved up to the big circuit, BBF got on the board twice against a tough cohort of Santa Anita sprint fillies. More importantly, she flashed some early speed and often led at the 3F and 4F marks in her races.  Moved up to Golden Gate for some class relief, she was second but injured in the stretch after some interference.
After a long recovery, BBF’s early zip led us to a second chance in the nightly 4.5F sprints at Los Alamitos for a comeback campaign. Using California’s waiver claiming rule (allowing horses to run without the tag after a 6 month lay off at the same or higher class level), BBF wired a field of 4K conditional claimers, prompting the track announcer to say “entered not to be claimed, these connections knew what they were doing” as BBF crossed the wire well in first place.
Then, in her second race off the layoff, BBF ran what was perhaps the best race of career. From the outside post, she won an open claiming 8K race against some of the stronger sprinters in the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse meet, including the geldings. Given 5lbs as a mare, BBF bested the field by over three lengths. Those with win tickets got the best deal–by far–as she went off at long odds.
Now, we move up the class ladder again with BBF. This Sunday BBF gets to take part in the rich 870 yard Handicap tradition at Los Alamitos which once hosted one of the top 870 yard Quarter Horse “marathons in the country:
This field will include some of BBF’s toughest competition to date, including:
) The Sunol Grade 5/2 (124 lbs): This favored gelding is one of the top 4.5F and 870 yard horses of 2014 at Los Alamitos. He’s won two similar 870 Handicaps. He draws the inside post, and has perennial leading jockey Ramon Guce up. But he ships back home after leading in a GG turf sprint and tiring late. His homecoming could be rough, with this field of 870 yard participants one of the best in recent months. Still figures to be a factor and maybe make the grade.
  ) Sprouts ML 7/2 (123 lbs): The multiple black type-winning filly has been in 8 big circuit stake sprints, including the G1 Del Mar Debutante. She has the class and a rocket recent work, but has never run the 870 yard distance and draws a tough outside post in a one turn 870 yard dash where saving ground is key. Also, Sprouts sports a new jockey and seeks to grow off a five-month lay-off. If she runs back to black type form (races which she often led early), she may be tough or could wither under the lights of Los Al.
  ) Mi Agave 7/2 (124 lbs): This gelding has been very consistent, winning 9 of 20 races life, but he finished second behind BBF in their recent 8K claiming match. He did give up 5lbs there and it was a rough early start with bumping galore. Could be a factor, mas or menos.
)Best By Far 4 to 1 (122lbs): With two wins in a row and marked improvement in each race off, BBF could be the “form” horse here coming off two dominating wins after her lay off. Her new connections have her running better than ever at a distance she was made for.  She gets an inside post with Bednar up. She even has some new owners and her large cheering section is no doubt the best by far. She’ll make a Hollywood finish here, recovering from a major injury, if she can become a stakes winner or stakes placed. She’s been placed in ideal spots and will have to do the rest.
) Mason B 6 to 1 (123 lbs): While this gelding has a fast 870 yard allowance win, he comes off the vet list (sick) from early in the month. Time will tell if he is well.
)Changing Karma 8 to 1 (122lbs): This gelding is a stablemate of BBF, also much improved under trainer Tom Bazley. With 3 early stakes (once runner up), this runner has some back class and showed early speed in many of the running lines. Changing Karma blossomed in short sprints at Los Alamitos and has a third place at 870 yards in both an allowance and a handicap. So it could be more good karma here.
) Lucky Cotton 20 to 1 (121 lbs): Look for this gelding by Lucky Pulpit to come down in the odds, coming right off 25K and 40K routes at Santa Anita. This versatile runner has covered some ground, starting an MSW and stakes trajectory in SoCal and falling into claiming ranks before making it as far as Les Bois–where he was stakes placed. Most impressive recently was Lucky Cotton’s 5F win over a tough field of open 8K claimers at the Los Al TB meet (Dec 7, 2014). He also has a 3rd in an 870 yard allowance. Shortening up here, Lucky Cotton got an unlucky outside post, but gets the same eager apprentice up(Boulanger) who won that sprint here last month. He gets a lower weight but not the bug allowance.
) Red Hot Niko 20 to 1 (120lbs): Our QH entry does have one very recent 870 yard allowance race under his belt (dueled but faded). He gets low weight here, has a 660 and 870 work in December. You have to look hard to find this one. But three generations back, he does has a Thoroughbred sire very top and a thoroughbred dam very bottom of the pedigree, so you never know, but he’ll need to improve against tougher competition here.
This will be the premier race of the night and, hopefully, the best by far for all our owners and connections!