Anderson Is Over The Moon After Moonie Blues' PCQHRA Breeders' Derby Win
Moonie Blues, under jockey Ramon Sanchez, rosses the wire ahead of Chand To Fire and champion J Fire Up in the $152,00 PCQHRA Breeders' Derby at Los Alamitos Race Course.
© Scott Martinez
LOS ALAMITOS, CA—OCTOBER 5, 2018—Lisa Anderson's Moonie Blues won her first derby of the season in her fourth attempt, as she took the lead shortly after the start and cruised from there under a hand-ride by jockey Ramon Sanchez to win the Grade 3, $152,000 PCQJHRA Breeders Derby by a half-length over the talented Chance to Fire and the millionaire champion J Fire Up on Friday at Los Alamitos.

Leaving the gate from post number nine, Moonie Blues was second at the start before taking command by a half-length after the first 100 yards of the 400-yard race. Moonie Blues had a ¾ length lead at the half way point of the race and before crossing the wire a half-length ahead of Abigail Kawananakoa's Chance To Fire.

Trained by Jaime Gomez, Moonie Blues covered the distance in :19.678 while earning $56,640 for the win. The Washington homebred filly by FREIGHTTRAIN B and out of the mare Stuckonafeeling, by Special Leader, has now earned $493,225. She's won seven of 16 starts and has finished in the top three a total of 14 times during her outstanding career.

She was second to J Fire Up in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and won the Wild West Futurity last year. Prior to this derby win, Moonie Blues was third in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, Grade 2 Golden State Derby, and Grade 3 La Primera Del Ano Derby. Now she's finally a graded derby winner.

"It's a lifetime dream," said Anderson. "I'm just a girl from Walla Walla, Washington running a horse against great Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. When your filly runs third in a derby you can't be disappointed. To see your horse step up and win a graded race like this, you really appreciate it. I've been involved with horses all of my life. I was a Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred jockey from 1979 to about 1984. I rode at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds and in Yakima. I did it for fun and it put me through college. I won about 40 to 50 races, a lot of them at the bush tracks near my home. I was fortunate to ride with Gary Stevens and Gary Boag. I was good enough to ride, but my passion was breaking the 2-year-olds. Working with the horses has been my love."

On the night of Moonie Blues' win in the PCQHRA Breeders Derby, Anderson was back home in Walla Walla watching the races with her two sisters. The owner was home for a surprise birthday celebration for her sister, Debbie.

"My sisters told me that I should have been there for the race, but family is important," she said. "My heart was at Los Alamitos as well. Debbie has been at Los Alamitos for Moonie Blues' races several times. She was there with me on the night that she ran second in the Los Alamitos Two Million and she's been at Los Al when Moonie Blues' older brother, Go Black Benny, has raced in derbies. We'll be back at Los Alamitos for one of Moonie Blues' next race. I'm still in disbelief even though I felt she was looking really good. She won the final like she won her trial. It was so exciting to see her win the derby under a hand ride. Ramon is a quiet rider and he rode her so smoothly. He just fits her."

Both Anderson and Gomez credited the time off that Moonie Blues enjoyed in the summer for her current strong autumn campaign.

"We ran Moonie Blues a lot at the end of last year," Gomez said. "We freshened her up (after the March 30 La Primera Del Ano Derby). She really appreciated the rest. She's really put on a lot of muscle in her hind quarters. She's a good eater. She behaves. She fires all the time."

Gomez added that Moonie Blues got bumped lightly leaving the gate in the PCQHRA Breeders Derby.

"(Diamonds Blue Eye) brushed her a little bit," Gomez said. "Ramon told me he felt something in the back. She took off after that. She was like a bullet. I think we'll just walk her for the next two weeks to get her ready for the Los Alamitos Super Derby trials in two weeks (October 20). When these horses are fit, you don't need to do too much. You just have to fresh them up. We're going to go to the Super Derby trials. This filly is pretty sound. She liked the time off."

Trained by Chris O'Dell and ridden by Cody Jensen, Chance To Fire earned $24,140 for running second. The Walk Thru Fire gelding also finished second in the Governor's Cup Derby on July 28 and was the runner-up in the Governor's Cup Futurity last year. The Ed Allred-bred runner has hit the board in 10 of 11 career starts and has earned $313,739 in his career.

"We were just a bit short this evening," O'Dell said. "That Moonie Blues is tough. We're pointing for the Super Derby. We have to hit these spots. There aren't that many derbies left."

Darling Farms, Jaime Gomez, and Ernesto Solis' J Fire Up, the AQHA champion 2-year-old last year, broke nicely from the outside post 10, ran evenly throughout and finished third. She earned $17,040 to take her lifetime earnings to $1,467,911. The daughter of Kiddy Up is out of the Walk Thru Fire mare This Boogie Fires.

"We operated on J Fire Up (after the conclusion of her freshman campaign)," Gomez said. "They were itty bitty chips, but when they go through the joints you have to deal with them. Then we took an embryo out of her. I think that's hurt her racing. She's not breaking like she did last year. I don't have to ask her for nothing else. She's given me the biggest thrills of my career. What else can you ask? I don't think she owes me anything. I really love her. I got the mother, I got a Corona Cartel colt out of her coming right now - a yearling, beautiful. I got a little weanling Corona Cartel filly and then I bred her back to Kiddy Up, One Famous Eagle, and Docs Best Card."

Governor's Cup Derby winner Black Fryday finished fourth and was followed by Remember The Rose, Dont Foose With Me, The Revenant, Diamonds Blue Eye, On Our Way and Jess My Kiss.

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