02/16/2015 4:35PM

Matabari upsets Moonist in Los Alamitos Winter Championship


CYPRESS, Calif. – Matabari, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2013, won Sunday’s $169,800 Los Alamitos Winter Championship, beating Moonist, the champion 3-year-old of 2014.

Matabari ($32.40) ran 400 yards in 19.76 seconds, finishing a head in front of Moonist, who had won nine previous starts. Jake Gold Br, a stakes winner in Brazil and California in 2014, finished third.

Moonist’s win streak included trials and finals of four derbys at Los Alamitos in 2014 and a division of the Winter Championship trials on Jan. 25.

Matabari was ridden by Santiago Mendez for trainer Felix Gonzalez. Matabari won the $901,200 Los Alamitos Super Derby in 2013, but lost her next five starts before the Winter Championship. The 5-year-old mare, by Mr Jess Perry, has won 7 of 14 starts and earned $1,410,471 for Balgo Racing Team and Marlyn Gonzalez. The mare was bred by Jose Maria Gonzalez, who races as Balgo Racing.

Gonzalez said there was talk of retiring Matabari if she ran poorly in the Winter Championship. Instead, she will be given a rest, with the goal of the major stakes in the second half of the year.

In the past, the Winter Championship winner has earned an automatic berth for the $600,000 Champion of Champions in December, but track officials have not confirmed that the race will be run this year. The 2014 Champion of Champions was canceled after track officials expressed concern about nationwide policies concerning the use of clenbuterol in Quarter Horse racing. Clenbuterol is not permitted for use at Los Alamitos.