09/28/2012 2:46PM

Los Alamitos: Vessels Handicap offers Champion of Champions berth


The $150,000 Mildred Vessels Handicap at Los Alamitos offers more than a lucrative prize befitting a Grade 1 race for Quarter Horse fillies and mares.

The winner of the 400-yard race receives an automatic berth to the $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 15, a race that plays a pivotal role in year-end championships.

The field for the Vessels Handicap includes several runners who would fit in the Champions of Champions.

The Vessels drew 11 runners, but will be limited to 10 starters. The leading contenders are the 3-year-old Flame N Flash, unraced since winning the La Primera Del Ano Derby for fillies in April; Fredaville, who won the California Distaff Challenge in August; and Flying Fig, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2010.

Other runners include Onemoreglassofwine, who won the 2011 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders’ Derby, and Enjoy the Walk, who won the California Breeders Matron Stakes in July.

Flying Fig has yet to win a stakes in her 16-race career, but was second in two seven-figure futurities in 2010 – the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million. The Mildred Vessels may be her final start.

“If she wins, we’ll have a berth in the Champion of Champions,” co-owner Pete Parrella said. “If she doesn’t, we will probably take her home.”

Flying Fig, trained by Dennis Ekins, was third in the California Distaff Challenge in her last start.

Trainer Juan Aleman starts Flame N Flash and Fredaville, who will start from the two outside posts.

◗ Los Alamitos-based trainers Eloy Navarro and Hector Sanchez have been suspended for recent medication violations.

Navarro was fined $1,000 and suspended 30 days, from Sept. 5 through next Thursday, for several infractions relating to having a syringe in his possession, track stewards said.

Earlier this year, Navarro won the Ed Burke Million Futurity with One Dashing Eagle. Earlier this month, One Dashing Eagle won the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs for co-owner and trainer Jose de la Torre.

Sanchez has been suspended for 60 days, from Sept. 5 through Nov. 3, and fined $3,000 after one of his runners earlier this year tested positive for the banned bronchial dilator clenbuterol.

The positive was found in a post-race test taken from Nozomu, who finished seventh in a $2,000 claimer on July 21.