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Big favorite Loco Ocho comes through at GPD

Loco Ocho, ridden by Jesus Valenzuela. GPD photo

GRANTS PASS — Heavily favored Loco Ocho delivered a decisive 1¼-length victory in the $27,676 Q-Racing Video Grants Pass Distaff Challenge for older fillies and mares Tuesday night at Grants Pass Downs.

Ridden by Jesus Valenzuela at 128 pounds, Loco Ocho ran 400 yards in 19.632 seconds and paid $3 as the odds-on choice. Garth Blattner is the winning trainer for owner Darla Barlow of Idaho Falls, Ida.

Breaking perfectly from the outside post in a field of six, Loco Ocho quickly opened a daylight lead and drew off for a powerful victory, improving her career ledger to 9-3-3 from 19 starts.

A 5-year-old Idaho-bred by The Louisiana Cartel, Loco Ocho raced for the first time since finishing third in the $100,000 AQHA Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at the Downs Racetrack and Casino in Albuquerque last October.

“The filly trains herself, I’m no rocket scientist,” Blattner said after the race. “She’s a blessing to train.”

The victory, worth $13,284, boosted Loco Ocho’s career earnings to $61,438.

First Moon Cat, ridden by Taylor Smith, finished second, and Fooses Flyer, with Jose Figueroa riding, finished third. One Flyin Foose, Rtm Good Enough and Diva This rounded out the order of finish; Orange Vodka Shooter and Jess Candy Lips were scratched.

On-track attendance was 565 and mutuel handle totaled $364,836.

NOTES: El Alto Hombre ($3.20) made it two for two in 2021 with a razor-sharp victory in race five, holding off Golden Cowboy for a three-quarter-length victory in a $7,500 allowance for 3-year-olds and up. Ridden by Jose Figueroa for trainer Liz Kowalski and owner Anthony Hoover, El Alto Hombre ran 5 ½ furlongs in a sizzling 1:03.63 to score his 11th win in 31 starts lifetime, including a 6-7-1 mark from 16 starts at Grants Pass Downs. A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred by Archarcharch, El Alto Hombre won the Caveman Stakes on May 10.

Hot August Storm ($3.80) and Heavy Haul ($3.20) also became double winners at the meet with victories Tuesday. A 3-year-old Oregon-bred filly by Python, Hot August Storm is trained by James Craig and co-owned by Craig and granddaughter Kodye Craig. A 4-year-old California-bred by Marino Marini, Heavy Haul is trained by Travis Wheeler and owned by Larry Knudsen, Bill Rawlings and Kevin Roy Kraayenbrink.

2020 Grants Pass Mile winner Pulpits Power ($4) notched his first win of 2021, holding off Dyf in the nightcap for allowance/optional $8,000 claimers. ... Hot August Storm was claimed for $10,000 Tuesday by Jason Homer and Homer Thoroughbreds Inc. ... Joree Scriver rode two winners, including Pulpits Power, and leads the overall jockey standings with 10 wins including nine thoroughbred wins. ... Figueroa and Jaime Lopez also rode two winners each. ... Lopez tops the quarter horse standings with four wins.

Hop Town Cartel, the only horse in the field to have previous racing experience, scored a $28.20 upset in a $5,000 maiden claimer for 2-year-old quarter horses. In the same race, second-place finisher Leaving Angelz was disqualified and placed fifth for interference. ... Okey Dokey Road ($4.80) continues to make the most from limited opportunities. The 6-year-old Oregon-bred gelding returned from six and a half-month layoff to win a $7,500 starter/optional claiming race Tuesday, running 300 yards in :15.55 seconds, and is 6 for 12 lifetime for trainer John Harris.

Clem Juice ($31.40) led gate to wire under Vladimir Jensen for owner/trainer John Guidos in race four, triggering a $1 trifecta worth a whopping $5,527.40. ... The meet resumes Monday on Memorial Day with first post 5:15 p.m. Monday’s program features a $29,578 carryover in the $0.50 Jackpot Pick 5.