08/23/2013 11:27AM

Los Alamitos: Far Niente comes back strong as gelding, tops Golden State Derby


Far Niente was a very good Quarter Horse racing as a colt in 2012. He may be even better as a gelding this year.

On Aug. 11, Far Niente made his first start in more than six months after being gelded. He won a division of the Grade 1 Golden State Derby trials at Los Alamitos, setting the fastest qualifying time for Sunday’s $232,900 final.

Owned by Tom Atwood and Vessels Stallion Farm, Far Niente will start as a leading contender in Sunday’s 400-yard final. The recent win has left trainer Jose Hernandez Jr. optimistic that Far Niente will be more focused in his race.

“He has a lot more potential as a racehorse,” Hernandez said after the trials. “He has settled down a lot more, and his training is a lot better.”

A winner of 5 of 9 starts and $144,826, Far Niente has yet to win a stakes. He finished third in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Breeders’ Association Futurity last October and was seventh in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last December.

Far Niente was turned out following a second-place finish in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby trials last January after he failed to qualify for the final. He was gelded during the break. When he made his comeback in the Golden State Derby trials, Far Niente was timed in a quick 19.49 seconds.

Far Niente is the first Grade 1 starter for Hernandez, who formerly worked as an exercise rider and assistant trainer. In the Golden State Derby, Far Niente starts from the inside post in the track’s premier summer race for 3-year-olds.

Trial race winners Revv Me Up (19.69) and The August Heat (19.51) have credentials to win.

Revv Me Up, trained by Paul Jones, won the La Primera Del Ano Derby for 3-year-old fillies in April and was third in the Governor’s Cup Derby on July 27.

The August Heat, trained by Jaime Gomez, was second by a nose in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

The August Heat returned to racing in the Golden State Derby trials after a layoff of more than six months, winning under a hand ride from jockey Rodrigo Aceves. During the break, The August Heat had a bone chip removed from a knee.

The August Heat has won 3 of 11 starts and $396,188, the highest earnings among the Golden State Derby entrants.