02/15/2016 7:46AM

Moonist triumphs over Heza Dasha Fire again in Los Alamitos Winter Championship


CYPRESS, Calif. – In a showdown of the nation’s top two Quarter Horses, Moonist, the champion aged horse of 2015, beat Heza Dasha Fire, the 2015 World Champion, for the second consecutive time this year in Sunday’s $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, Moonist ($4.60) broke at the front of a field of 10 and held a half-length advantage throughout the 400 yards over Heza Dasha Fire, the 7-10 favorite. Moonist was timed in 19.49 seconds.

Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire were far superior to their rivals on Sunday. Walk the Catwalk, a 57-1 outsider, finished third, but was 2 1/4 lengths behind Heza Dasha Fire.

This was the third meeting between Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire in the last two months, all at Los Alamitos. On Dec. 12, Heza Dasha Fire and Moonist finished first and second in the $600,000 Champion of Champions, a race that clinched the World Champion title.

On Jan. 24, Moonist reversed the result in a division of the Winter Championship trials.

Moonist races for Ron Hartley and trainer John Cooper. A 5-year-old gelding, Moonist has won 12 stakes at Los Alamitos in his career. Charger Bar and Kaweah Bar share the all-time record of 18 stakes wins.

It could be a few months before Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire meet again. Trainer Jose Antonio Flores said after Sunday’s race that the 4-year-old Heza Dasha Fire will be given a break, with the major stakes of the autumn as a goal. Moonist will race this summer, and perhaps in the spring, although Cooper was not specific about race goals.

The win in the Winter Championship gives Moonist an automatic berth for the 2016 Champion of Champions on Dec. 10. Moonist has won 22 of 32 starts and earned $864,168.