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Track record for Little Bit of Baja not good enough to win

Although a win eluded Vessels Stallion Farm in the Champion of Champions stakes race December 13 at Los Alamitos, Little Bit of Baja still broke the track record.

The four-year-old gelding’s time of 20.974 seconds was faster than the previous record of 21.132 seconds for the 440-yard distance.

Another four-year-old gelding, Jess You and I, won the race in 20.944 seconds and finished a head in front of Little Bit of Baja.

“You always want to win, but those horses were out there by themselves. They both broke the track record,” said Scoop Vessels. “It’s just hard to complain when your horse gives his all and comes up just a little bit short.”

The Champion of Champions was slated to be the final race for No Secrets Here before being retired to stand at Vessels Stallion Farm, but No Secrets Here was scratched.

“He wasn’t 100 percent and I just didn’t want to run him,” Vessels said. “He doesn’t owe us anything, and you don’t honor him by letting him run in a race when he isn’t 100 percent.”

Vessels noted that a horse which has not been gelded has two careers: one on the racetrack and one in the breeding pen.

“We’re ready to start the second career with him,” Vessels said of No Secrets Here. “He’s done a great job on the racetrack.”

In 19 career starts No Secrets Here had six wins, seven places, and four shows. He earned $1,622,095, making him one of the top 15 all-time earners in quarter horse racing history.

No Secrets Here, the son of First Down Dash and Dicey Secret, was foaled in 2004. “We’ve got a lot of people lining up to breed to him,” Vessels said.

Little Bit of Baja is also a son of First Down Dash, whose offspring have earned more than $65 million.

The 24-year-old First Down Dash, who stands at Vessels Stallion Farm, is quarter horse racing’s all-time leader in terms of money earned by offspring.

While Jess You and I rather than Little Bit of Baja holds the new track record for 440 yards at Los Alamitos, Little Bit of Baja set the 400-yard track record November 21 in the Z. Wayne Griffin Director’s Stakes.

“The horse does the best that he can,” Vessels said.

Little Bit of Baja won the Grade 3 stakes race in 19.271 seconds.

The previous 400-yard record had been set on November 30, 2007, by A Stoli Mate, who ran that race in 19.295 seconds.

In this year’s Champion of Champions, A Stoli Mate finished third, one and three-quarter lengths behind Little Bit of Baja.

The previous 440-yard record was set at last year’s Champion of Champions on December 15, 2007, by Blues Girl Too. Little Bit of Baja also finished second in that race.

Breaking two track records is impressive but may also delay Little Bit of Baja’s next race. “That takes a lot out of you,” Vessels said.

“We’re kind of playing our options,” Vessels said. “He’s going to decide by telling us how good he came out of this race.”

Vessels is considering two February races in which a win would qualify Little Bit of Baja for the 2009 Champion of Champions.

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