The Dec. 15-16 weekend saw a pair of prominent stakes races run at the Los Alamitos track, and horses associated with Vessels Stallion Farm competed in both of them.
Hez Our Secret, who is currently owned by Johnny Trotter but was foaled at Vessels Stallion Farm, finished fourth in the Champion of Champions invitational stakes race Dec. 15. Far Niente, who is partially owned by Vessels Stallion Farm, finished seventh in the Dec. 16 Los Alamitos $2 Million futurity race.
“It was just world-class racing at a world-class facility,” said Bonnie Vessels.
Ten horses ran the 440-yard Champions of Champions race. Hez Our Secret broke sixth before finishing fourth, less than a length behind winner Rylees Boy.
“The farm was very proud to see another Vessels-bred horse do so well in such a prestigious race,” Vessels said.
Hez Our Secret was sired by First Down Dash, who passed away in December 2010.
Far Niente is co-owned by Vessels Stallion Farm and Tom Atwood. He won his trials race Nov. 25 to qualify for the Los Alamitos $2 Million, winning the 400-yard race by half a length with a time of 19.778 seconds.
Far Niente had a time of 19.834 seconds in the 400-yard Los Alamitos $2 Million itself, which put him approximately a length behind winner Matabari and 1 1/4 lengths in front of eighth-place Somethin Like This.
“It’s a very tough race. It was a very even field,” Vessels said.
Far Niente, who broke fourth at the trials, broke ninth in the Los Alamitos $2 Million.
Far Niente was sired by Fdd Dynasty. His dam, Sheza Shy Shahayla, gave trainer John Wells his first victory in nearly 30 years in 2010. Wells was a top trainer in the 1970s but had been retired before making the decision to return to training. Wells trained Far Niente.
“He wanted to come back and try again, and to get horses in one of the biggest races of the year is a huge ordeal,” Vessels said. “It was really special.”