12/19/2011 1:10PM

Los Alamitos: El Aguila Real closes out meet by taking California Derby


LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.- El Aguila Real lived up to the role of fastest qualifier with a head victory in Sunday’s $171,750 Southern California Derby at Los Alamitos.

The Grade 1 Southern California Derby was the closing-night feature of the track’s 2010-2011 meeting. The 2011-2012 meeting begins on Dec. 30.

El Aguila Real ($10.20) ran 400 yards in 19.74 seconds, finishing a head in front of Feature My Corona, a 22-1 shot. Feature My Corona led early, but El Aguila Real was in front for the last 200 yards under jockey Cruz Mendez. Lifes Been Good finished third in the field of 10, with 3-1 favorite First Black Wagon finishing fourth.

El Aguila Real, a 3-year-old gelding, is owned by Cruz Mendez’s sister-in-law, Bianca Mendez, and trained by Vince Smith. Bianca Mendez, 21, said she often oversees the training of El Aguila Real, who has won 5 of 13 starts and $106,925.

The Southern California Derby was El Aguila Real’s first stakes win. In the Nov. 27 time trials, El Aguila Real pulled a 27-1 upset in 19.68 seconds.